Recalled Fresh Vegetables at Trader Joe’s: Some may be Contaminated with Listeria Monocytogenes
at your veggies! This is usually great advice, but in this instance, fresh vegetables may pose a deadly risk. The risk involves packages of fresh vegetables produced/packaged by Growers Express Company and sold at Trader Joe’s, where these fresh vegetables are part of a recall due to possible listeria contamination. At least one sample has tested positive for the dangerous organism in random testing. Trader Joe’s has voluntarily launched this recall and the Food and Drug Administration is posting the recall to their site as a courtesy to the public. Multiple packages of various vegetables are a part of this recall but all are from the Growers Express Company.
The recalled fresh vegetables include squash, zucchini and cauliflower and come spiralized, diced, as ‘fried rice,’ crumbles, in ramen bowls or as the base of special veggie bowls. At present, only fresh vegetables are a part of this recall -no frozen or canned vegetables are suspected of being contaminated with Listeria at this time.
Multiple states have received shipments of these recalled fresh vegetables- more than twenty-five in total. Retailers in such states such as Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia have stocked shelves with the varying sized packages ranging from 7 ounces to 2 pounds. The company responsible for production and distribution of this product, Growers Express, is based in Biddeford, Maine. In an effort to prevent exposure to the contaminate, Listeria, Growers Express is working diligently to get the product off of shelves. Company president, Tom Byrne, confirmed that the company has stopped production and cleaned and sanitized their production facility. So far, there have been no reports of illness.
How Common is Listeria in Fresh Vegetables?
According to one food poisoning lawyer, the most common sources of Listeria are unpasteurized dairy products, deli meats, and smoked products like salmon. These are all on the “consume with care” list of the CDC for those who have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, or are very young or elderly. But vegetables, even fresh vegetables, can also get contaminated – especially when the production cycle included refrigeration where listeria thrives. Unlike some pathogens, refrigeration does not slow the spread of the bacteria.
What is Listeria Monocytogenes and How does it Present?
Listeria Monocytogenes is a bacterium causing Listeriosis, the third deadliest amongst foodborne illness. This bacteria’s ability to grow at extremely low temperatures can make food products susceptible to its presence. Exposure to listeria can cause infection in the blood, brain and spinal cord and can lead to meningitis in newborns or stillbirth and miscarriages in pregnant women. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, headache and stiffness.
It is rarely identified with specificity because it does not traditionally culture in a victim’s stool. A placental culture (in miscarriages and still births) or a spinal fluid culture (in cases of meningitis or encephalitis) is usually required to positively identify Listeria.
Consumers in possession of any of these recalled fresh vegetables, with brand names such as Green Giant, Signature Farms or Trader Joe’s, are asked to immediately dispose of the recalled fresh vegetables or return for refund. The ‘best if used by’ date is believed to be June 26-29 and Growers Express does not believe any of their other products are at risk.