Category: Health News

Rochester, Minnesota - The possibility of listeria contamination in certain packaged vegetables has led to a voluntary recall in the U.S. and Canada. The California vegetable supplier, Mann Packing, says it is issuing the recall to prevent any potential contamination. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reportedly discovered the Listeria monocytogenes contamination risk during random sampling.

"Listeria is a type of bacteria that can be found in food products and can cause quite serious foodborne illness in certain populations," says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist. "We worry about it, especially in pregnant women and their newborns, people who have weakened immune systems, and in the elderly."

Dr. Rajapakse says the most common foods that listeria infection is associated with are usually deli meats, hot dogs and products that are refrigerated for a prolonged period of time. "Listeria is one of the few bacteria that likes to divide at low temperatures. That’s why we see this being a problem in foods that are refrigerated."

Symptoms of listeria infection include:

But Dr. Rajapakse adds, "Listeria infection can present in different ways in different people. In newborns, it can present as what we call sepsis, or a systemic infection, or bloodstream infection. This can make newborn infants sleepy or lethargic. It can cause brain infections, blood infections, and make them quite sick overall. In other populations, such as pregnant women, or elderly or immunocompromised patients, the most worrisome form of listeria infection is meningitis, or infection around the surface of the brain. However, it can also cause bloodstream infections in those populations, as well."

Simple food safety precautions, such as good hand hygiene, scrubbing raw fruits and vegetables, and ensuring food is thoroughly cooked, can help prevent infection.

Women who are pregnant, and those with a weak immune system should take these precautions to avoid listeria infection: