A New Jersey food company is recalling more than a ton of frozen meatballs packaged under the Sam’s Club brand “Member’s Mark” because of possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Rich Products Corp. of Vineland, N.J., shipped the ready-to-eat meatballs to distributors in nine states: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The recall notice did not indicate whether those distributors have sent the recalled meatballs to other states.

Because the 3,420 pounds of recalled meatballs have such a long shelf life, federal and company officials are urging consumers to check any Member’s Mark brand meatballs they have on hand, according to the notice posted Wednesday by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers,” according to the recall notice. “Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

Consumers can identify the recalled meatballs by looking for the following label information:

  • “Member’s Mark Casa Di Bertacchi Italian Style Beef Meatballs” in 6-pound plastic bags;
  • “Best if Used By 17 DEC 2018” date code;
  • Lot code of 15507351; and
  • Establishment number “EST. 5336” printed inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Rich Products shipped the frozen meatballs, which were produced Dec. 17, 2017, in 36-pound cases of six 6-pound bags.

“The problem was discovered on Jan. 24 when FSIS received notification from the firm that they shipped adulterated product into commerce,” according to the recall notice, which did not include any information about how the company became aware of the possible contamination.

Anyone who has eaten any of the Member’s Mark meatballs and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the pathogen.

It can take up to 70 days after exposure for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop. Consequently, people who have eaten the recalled meatballs should monitor themselves for listeriosis symptoms during the coming weeks.

Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. In severe cases the infection becomes invasive and spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract.

Older adults, young children and people with weakened immune systems such as cancer patients, people with HIV/AIDS and organ transplant recipients are susceptible to serious, sometimes fatal, infections. In addition, in pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. The pathogen can cross the placenta and infect developing fetuses.

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