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Q&A: California Fruit Recall

How do I know whether the fruit I bought/ate has been recalled?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has posted a list of all fruits recalled to date from the Wawona Packing Co., including packing numbers, searchable lot codes and Block ID numbers. The agency has also posted photos of the clamshells, boxes and bags the recalled fruit was shipped in or packaged in for retail sale at Costco, Trader Joe’s, Sam’s Clubs and possibly other stores and/or under the Wawona brand, Harvest Sweet or Sweet 2 Eat labels.

The FDA photo pages, along with company photo pages, also show product weights and corresponding UPC numbers for the recalled fruit. If you still can’t be sure if the fruit you bought or have eaten was part of the recall, call the retail outlet where the fruit was purchased and ask.

Where were the recalled fruits distributed?

The July 19 recall announcement from Wawona Packing Co. indicated that the company was not aware of the entire distribution of the recalled fruits:

“The recalled products were shipped directly to retailers and wholesalers who resell the products. Because we do not know the locations of the companies that purchased the products from our direct customers, the company is issuing a nationwide recall,” it stated.

It is known that some of the recalled fruits went to ALDI stores, Trader Joe’s, Costco, Kroger, Walmart and Sam’s Clubs. Subsequent press reports indicate the following stores may have carried the recalled fruit: Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Giant Food Stores, Martins, Hannafords, BJ’s Wholesale, Dillons, Save-a-Lot, Fry’s, King Soopers, Stop & Shop, Big Y Foods, Ralphs and Whole Foods.

Also, exported fruit to Canada and Australia has been impacted.

Wegman’s made several in-store desserts from some of the recalled fruits, which it recalled the next day (July 20).

Are there any other fruits involved in the recall besides conventional and organic yellow and white nectarines, yellow and white peaches, black plums and pluots?

No. Only those varieties of fruit already mentioned are involved in this recall.

If I (or someone I know) has any of the recalled fruits or any of the desserts made from the recalled fruits, what should be done with them?

If possible, return it to the place of purchase for a refund. If not, throw it away.

Are there any confirmed Listeriosis cases in the U.S. related to this recall so far?

As of Tuesday, July 22, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that no Listeria cases associated with the recall have been reported to any state health department. Food Safety News published a reader comment on July 21 stating there were such cases in Webster, NY, but the New York State Health Department said Tuesday that there are no laboratory-confirmed cases of Listeria in Webster. A spokesman for the Monroe County Health Department, the county in which Webster is located, also confirmed that on Tuesday.

How can I tell if I or someone I know has been infected by Listeria bacteria?

According to CDC, “a person with Listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has ‘invasive’ infection, in which the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract.” However, the agency notes that symptoms vary with the infected person.” More information is available here.

How long does it take after eating Listeria-contaminated food products before a person develops symptoms of infection?

Listeria’s incubation period (the time from initial exposure to the onset of symptoms) ranges from three to 70 days. Once symptoms are experienced, they can last from several days to several weeks. Some people are infected with Listeria but never experience any symptoms.

What should I do if I or someone I know develops symptoms of Listeriosis?

CDC states that, “If you become very sick with fever and muscle aches or stiff neck, or if you develop fever and chills while pregnant, consult your doctor immediately. A blood or spinal fluid test (to look for the bacteria) will show if you have listeriosis.” See more from CDC on the clinical diagnosis of Listeriosis here.

How does raw fruit get contaminated by Listeria bacteria?

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria is commonly found in soil and water, according to CDC. Animals may also carry it without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin such as meats and dairy products, or fruits and vegetables grown where they may be exposed to animal feces. Food can also become contaminated by Listeria bacteria in a processing facility.

What is the treatment for Listeriosis?

CDC states that Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. “A person in a higher-risk category (pregnant woman, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems) who experiences fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches, within 2 months of eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the physician or health care provider about eating the contaminated food.”

However, CDC adds that, “if a person has eaten food contaminated with Listeria and does not have any symptoms, most experts believe that no tests or treatment are needed, even for persons at higher risk for listeriosis.”

Can a person die from Listeriosis?

Yes. “Even with prompt treatment, some listeriosis cases result in death. This is particularly likely in older adults and in persons with other serious medical problems,” CDC states. Pregnant women with Listeriosis often experience stillbirths, and the pathogen is also a threat to persons with compromised immune systems from conditions ranging from HIV/AIDS to cancer survivors who have gone through chemotherapy.

Can Listeria bacteria be killed by cooking?

Yes. Listeria bacteria can be killed by cooking and pasteurization. “However,” the CDC notes, “in some ready-to-eat meats, such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after factory cooking but before packaging or even at the deli counter.” Also, refrigeration won’t help because, unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in some foods even at the relatively low temperatures of most refrigerators.

Should I throw away any other fruit that has touched or been stored with the recalled fruit?

To be on the safe side, this is probably a good idea. Be sure to wash your hands with hot water and soap afterward.

Do I need to clean out my refrigerator or any other containers that have stored the recalled fruit?

This is also a good idea to be on the safe side. Clean out the refrigerator and any containers you had the recalled fruit in with a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach to one quart of water and then rinse with plain water. Also wash all food work surfaces and utensils with this solution, let it stand for a few minutes, and then either pat dry with paper towels or rinse with plain water and dry.

(James Andrews, a reporter for Food Safety News, contributed to this article.)

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