Listeria zero tolerance prompts produce recall

Listeria is a pretty common bacteria in the soil and environment. Before Jensen Farms lots of food safety folks would not have been surprised to find some Listeria spp on the outside of a cantaloupe (it’s grown in soil, packed on lines that aren’t easy to clean and sanitize).

But handling practices, water and sanitation tragically magnified a few cells of Listeria monocytogenes into over thirty deathsBHGjA.AuSt.8

Having hundreds of thousands of Lm cells (and reaching the median infectious dose) is a public health risk. Consuming a few cells may not be.

Three years later, the result  has been that many food service and retail buyers require a regimen of sampling for fresh produce including, for Listeria species, on various products. If it’s found on the product, there’s going to be a recall. And while it might not be a risk-based reaction, no one (especially the buyers) are taking chances.

Wawona Packing Co of California recalled conventional and organic varieties of yellow peaches and nectarines, white peaches and nectarines, plums and pluots yesterday. Wawona has Trader Joe’s and Costco and BJ listed as buyers. Wegman’s has followed by recalling baked products (cakes pies, etc.) they made with the tree fruit.

And as Schaffner tweeted this morning:
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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.