If you are eating these veggies, you may be at risk for Listeria

If you grocery shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Albertson’s, Safeway, Target or Walmart, then listen up! There is a major multiple-state recall going on for vegetables sold in both the U.S. and Canada that affects everything from bags of salad and vegetable trays to pre-made risotto bowls and stir fry mixes. Check the FDA website  to see if anything in your fridge might be on the list.

Among the long list of recalled items are Archer Farms products sold at Target, broccoli and cauliflower sold at Walmart, salad blends sold at Trader Joe’s and many of the Mann’s Family branded bags of veggies. The affected items reportedly have a “best if used by” date of October 11 to October 20. The full list is here.

Mann Packing, a vegetable supplier in California, is responsible for the voluntarily recall and announced that their produce may have been contaminated by the harmful bacteria Listeria.

If you’re wondering what listeria is and why it’s so bad, you’re probably not alone. While many people have heard of E.coli and salmonella and how interacting with uncooked meats and produce can spread these germs around your kitchen, Listeria monocytogenes is much less common and consequently less talked about. However, what it lacks in prevalence, it makes up for in danger; Listeria is one of the most deadly bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses and is responsible for killing approximately 200 people a year.

Once inside the body, Listeria travels through the digestive tract and makes it way to the blood stream where it produces toxins that damage cells. What makes Listeriosis, the infection that Listeria causes, extra-dangerous is that, unlike other bacteria, it does not give you the common gastrointestinal symptoms we associate with food poisoning. Instead, the disease manifests itself in symptoms like headache, stiffness, fever, and muscle aches, and some people don’t even discover they’ve been affected until they come down with a more serious illness.

To avoid a Listeria infection, make sure you thoroughly cook meat and seafood, wash fruits and vegetables before eating, keep uncooked meats separate from other foods, avoid unpasteurized milk or dairy products and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.

While no illness have been reported from this outbreak so far, in 2011, an outbreak of Listeria killed 33. So, just to be safe, if you have purchased veggies in the last couple of weeks, make sure you check them against the FDA’s list of recalled items, and throw them away or return them to the store if they are on the list.

If you suspect you might have eaten a contaminated product and/or are experiencing any symptoms, make sure you consult your doctor right away.

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