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Listeria Outbreak Causes Massive Recall

Steve Wagner

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced an outbreak of the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, leading to a gigantic recall of frozen fruits and vegetables. Hundreds of products sold under 42 different brands in the United States in Canada have been recalled. The products, considered highly likely to have caused the outbreak, include frozen blueberries, broccoli, peas, and green beans sold at Safeway, Costco, and Trader Joe’s grocery stores.

Due to the CDC’s ability to track the genomes of various bacteria, they are fairly sure the outbreak is due to listeria bacteria present and living long-term in a CFR Frozen Foods factory in Pasco, Washington. Last year, listeria caused Blue Bell Creameries to recall all of their ice cream as a precaution after ten people became ill and three died.

Listeria is a particularly deadly bacteria that, when released into the bloodstream, kills one in five. Most individuals are able to resist the spread of the bacteria beyond the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Those individuals may experience diarrhea or other GI symptoms, but their immune systems fight off the more serious symptoms that usually result in a diagnosis of listeriosis, the deadly infection caused by listeria.

Infection Especially Dangerous for Vulnerable Populations

If the bacteria moves out of the GI tract and into the bloodstream, the danger to victim is immediate and serious. Problematically, the presentation of listeriosis varies depending on the individual and a few key demographic categories. As with many bacteria, the highest risk is for older adults, newborns, pregnant women, and individuals whose immune systems are weakened. Though symptoms are most likely to be evident within a couple of days of eating contaminated food, it can take as long as 1-2 months for a listeriosis infection to make itself known.

Pregnant women with listeriosis often experience symptoms common to many minor illnesses, such as fever, fatigue, and aches and pains. The threat to the baby is significant. Listeriosis during pregnancy can cause meningitis or bacteremia in newborns and carries a high risk of premature birth, stillbirth, and miscarriage.

Immunocompromised individuals (including infants and small children) with listeriosis are likely to present with acute febrile gastroenteritis, otherwise known as severe food poisoning. Symptoms include headache, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle aches and weakness. In a healthy person, these symptoms would clear up in a few days; however, the possibility of death due to severe dehydration is possible for those whose immune systems are not working properly.

As the illness progresses, symptoms may include worsening headache with a stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, and convulsions. These symptoms are potential indicators of septicemia or meningitis, two common ways the illness presents itself in older adults or other immunocompromised individuals.

Do You Have a Foodborne Pathogen in Your Freezer?

CFR has closed its Pasco plant until the source of the contaminant is found and removed. It is still critical for individuals to throw away or exchange potentially tainted products. CFR has recalled organic and traditionally grown items processed at the Washington facility, and the FDA is providing a list against which consumers can check UPC codes and “best by” dates.

Infection caused by listeria can result in meningitis, septicemia, and other serious health ailments. There can be long hospital stays, long periods of time away from work and family, and it can become difficult for family members to manage the health of their loved one while worrying about finances. In the case of a fatality due to listeria infection, family members may wonder how they will continue to take care of daily needs. The experienced product liability attorneys at Wagner Reese can ease the burden by ensuring the company responsible for your suffering compensates you appropriately. Call us today for a FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440.

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