Listeria Threat Drives Expanding Recall of Onion Products Across US

Onion image for Listeria Recall

In a domino effect, there have been at least 15 derivative recalls of products made with Gills onions because of possible listeria contamination, as Linda Larsen reports in Food Poisoning Bulletin.

The recall has affected at least 32 states and many major supermarkets, such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Food Markets, Wegman’s, Publix, and others, plus an airline catering service. The companies have recalled fresh foods for sale or about to be sold containing the onions.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), listeria (listeriosis) is a serious infection affecting primarily older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. In rare cases, people without those risk factors may become infected.

Symptoms can include fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. “Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis,” the CDC writes, “has ‘invasive’ infection,’ in which the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract.” Symptoms vary, depending on the person. Invasive listeriosis is rare, but deadly, Benjamin Silk, Ph.D., writes in a CDC Expert Commentary on Medscape Today: “Overall, Listeria monocytogenes ranks third as a cause of death due to major known foodborne pathogens in the United States.”

“The problem with Listeria contamination,” Larsen writes, “is that it can take up to 70 days for symptoms to appear.” Many people, she notes, do not associate the flu-like symptoms with food poisoning, so it is important for anyone who ate foods containing onions and who develops the symptoms over the course of two months to see a doctor

It was on July 18 that Gills Onions of Oxnard, California, first recalled various onion and celery products it had shipped between July 2 and 4 to retailers and processors in Canada and eight U.S. states: California, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Washington, Food Safety News (FSN) reports. The products all had use-by dates of July 20.

On July 24, Colorado-based Sartori Inspirations recalled several Cioli-brand dips and spreads containing the potentially contaminated onions, FSN writes. Sold at Whole Foods Markets, they included tapenades, smoked gouda, pimento cheese, spinach feta dip, and various salsas in both 7 oz. clear plastic and 5 lb. white plastic tubs.

Gills expanded its recall on July 25, to include more varieties of diced onions and celery that had been shipped to the above-mentioned states, plus Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, and New York, as well as Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario, Canada.

On July 26, Spartan Stores recalled its Three Bean Salad and its 10 oz. Broccoli Stir Fry sold between July 13 and 26; and Publix Super Markets recalled custom-made sub sandwiches sold from July 7 through 26 that might have contained Gills chopped onions. Whole Foods Market recalled 34 products from 17 stores in Florida. Huxtable’s Kitchen recalled Trader Joe’s Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Quinoa, and Wheatberry Salad, all distributed between July 23 and July 26. Simmering Soup recalled its Trader Joe’s brand Salsa and Balela.

Stop & Shop recalled its Calico Bean Salad sold between July 18 and 26. Wegmans Food Market recalled five cold-prepared products sold in three Pennsylvania stores.

GH Foods CA recalled products distributed to several stores in the western U.S. Cool Creations recalled 20 products shipped to stores in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Ken’s Foods of Marlborough, Massachusetts, recalled its tartar cause, barbecue sauce, and coleslaw sold under various names, including Ken’s, Dickey’s, Golden Corral, Lee’s, and Fatz. They were distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, North carolina, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Garden Fresh Foods of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, recalled 13,600 pounds of salad products produced between July 10 and 16, sold under various names. And San Miguel Produce recalled 48 cases of Cut N’ Clean brand Comfort Greens Kit distributed between July 13 and 17 in Arizona, California, Iowa, and Nevada, FSN reports.

The CDC offers the following suggestions to all people to prevent getting listeriosis:

  • Rinse raw produce thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting or cooking it. Even if you will be peeling the produce, it should be washed first.
  • Scrub firm produce (such as melons and cucumbers) with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry the produce with a clean cloth of paper towel.
  • Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or lower and the freezer at 0°F or lower.
  • Clean up spills in the refrigerator right away, especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry. Clean refrigerator shelves and walls with hot water and soap, then rinse.

Judy Pokras is currently head blogger for the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen, covering auto safety and personal injury news on the firm’s blog.

Image Credit: Graibeard of Flickr

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Judy Pokras has been a professional journalist for more than a decade, and has written for The New York Times and the Daily Record. She writes about food safety for US Recall News.

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