Food borne illness risk has been very high this week with several multi-state recalls initiated to contain potential E. coli and Listeria bacterial contaminations of meat, sprouts, hummus, dips, and walnuts.
If nothing else, this week has been a stern reminder that food-borne illness on a population level is but a few tainted food items away. Not one, not two, but several multi-state food product recalls were initiated to contain documented or suspected pathogenic bacterial contamination. Included in the withdrawn foods were nearly two million pounds of ground beef, fresh clover sprouts, hummus, dips, and walnuts.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products were recalled from stores in nine states because of suspected contamination with Escherichia coli strain O157:H7. The retailers affected include Gordon Food Service Marketplace stores in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Consumers are advised to discard or return meat that has the code EST.2574B and that was produced between March 31 and April 18, 2014. The meat originated from Wolverine Packing Co. in Detroit.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this week seven confirmed and three suspected cases of E. coli infection linked to raw clover sprouts marketed in Washington and Idaho. The recalled sprouts were produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts LLC of Idaho, according to the CDC. The health departments of both states are advising residents to discard any sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.
In addition, an estimated total of 14,860 pounds of hummus and dip products are being voluntarily recalled by Lansal Inc. after suspicions of contamination with Listeria moncytogenes bacteria. The hummus products were distributed under the names Target Archer Farms and Giant Eagle to retailers Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Trader Joe’s 5 Layered Dip was recalled in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
If those were not enough, bulk and packaged walnuts distributed to retailers in Missouri and Illinois by Sherman Produce were recalled. Again, the concern is with possible Listeria bacteria contamination. Todate, no illnesses have been linked to the hummus, dip, and walnut products that were recalled.
Escherichia coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in intestines of animals and humans. Most strains are harmless, but some can cause serious illness. The strain found in the clover sprouts produces Shiga toxin. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Listeria-caused illness involves more mild symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and headache. Listeria is of greatest concern for pregnant women.