What to Know About Fruit Recall Linked to Listeria

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Fruit sold at Walmart is being voluntarily recalled. Luis Alvarez / Getty Images
  • Fruit sold at Walmart is being voluntarily recalled over concerns it may be contaminated with listeria.
  • Listeria monocytogenes was detected on equipment used in an area near where these products are packed.
  • The bacteria can cause serious infections in at-risk groups, including pregnant women, children, and older adults.

Country Fresh, the company that produces fruit sold at Walmart, issued a voluntary recall of cut-up apples, grapes, mangos, pineapples, and cantaloupe. The company said there could be the potential for the spread of listeria.

The company announced the voluntary, precautionary recall on Oct. 1 and expanded it on Oct. 3. No illnesses have been reported.

During an inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), investigators detected Listeria monocytogenes on equipment used in an area near where these products are packed.

The fruit was packed in clamshell containers. It had “best if used by” dates between Oct. 3, 2020, and Oct. 11, 2020. The statement offers photos of the potentially affected products.

The fruit includes containers labeled as “Freshness Guaranteed.” It was distributed to Walmart locations in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas, according to an Oct. 3 announcement. The Oct. 1 statement included RaceTrac locations in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The products were being removed immediately, as per the press release dated Oct. 3.

Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) is a bacteria species found in the environment, such as in soil, water, vegetation, and animals. It can survive despite refrigeration and other food preservation techniques. People who eat food contaminated with the bacteria may develop the disease listeriosis to varying degrees.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in vulnerable populations, such as young children, older adults, and those with impaired immune systems.

“The disease is rare; the organism is not,” Haley F. Oliver, PhD, a professor of food science at Purdue University, told Healthline.

Healthy people may experience short-term symptoms, including fever, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, stiffness, and diarrhea. Severe symptoms can include stiff neck, convulsions, loss of balance, and confusion. In pregnant women, it can lead to stillbirths and miscarriages.

Symptoms can start in a few hours up to a few days after eating contaminated foods. More severe forms of listeriosis can take a few days or up to 3 months to develop.

About 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and about 260 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you suspect you may have listeriosis, talk to your doctor. It’s typically diagnosed via a blood or spinal fluid test.

Some of the symptoms may overlap with COVID-19, which could make it a challenge in terms of getting in to see a doctor as well as how the doctor may proceed to try to diagnose it.

Oliver said healthy people are likely to have some gastrointestinal distress if they have consumed the bacteria. They may be more likely to get symptoms more closely to when they consumed the contaminated food.

If infected, you may not require any treatment, but some patients are given antibiotics. The disease can become systemic in those who are immunocompromised, which is when it can become potentially fatal, Oliver noted.

People with worse cases are often hospitalized.

“Very few people go unhospitalized that actually get the extreme version of listeriosis,” Oliver added.

The only way to be certain that an individual infection was associated with a contaminated food item would be to compare the isolate of the organism from the patient to the isolate of the organism from the food item, noted Craig W. Hedberg, PhD, a professor at the University of Minnesota researching foodborne illness and infectious disease outbreaks.

“If the person ate the food item and subsequently became ill, this would be evidence that the exposure was related to the outcome,” he told Healthline. “One of the challenges with listeria is that the incubation period may last for several weeks.”

If you’re in an at-risk population and you know you ate a potentially contaminated product, it’s worth it to speak to your doctor, he said.

“We encourage any consumer who is experiencing symptoms of foodborne illness to seek care from their healthcare professional,” an FDA spokesperson told Healthline. “If they think that it could be food related, they should be sure to tell their provider that as well.”

If you have any of the recalled products, do not eat them, discard the produce immediately. For product questions, call Country Fresh at 1-877-251-8300 on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST.

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