CDC Links Listeriosis Illnesses To Fruit Recalled In July 2014

Image courtesy of (Renee Rendler-Kaplan)

Last summer, a California-based fruit packing company recalled all fruit that had passed through their plant during a six-week period, since they were potentially contaminated with Listeria bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have definitively linked fruits from the Wawona plant and cases of Listeriosis in different parts of the country, but what does that mean? should people who are pregnant or frail avoid fresh peaches and nectarines?

In short: no. Fresh fruit is good for you, and is also delicious. Listeriosis poses a special risk to pregnant women, and also people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems. These people shouldn’t avoid fruit, but should be sure to wash fresh fruit that they eat carefully. (Everyone was doing that already, right?)

The CDC used whole-genome sequencing to match bacteria from people who became sick from listeriosis during the period covered in the Wawona Packing Company recall. They checked whether the bacteria that made four people in different parts of the country sick matched. Two of them did. Investigators were able to use grocery store loyalty card records to match the customers’ purchases of fruit that had passed through that plant to an illness.

When it comes to fruit, the most important thing to remember in order to prevent infection with Listeria is to wash the fruit before you eat it.

Follow the FDA’s tips to avoid cross-contamination between types of food, and don’t leave precooked meats sitting around in your refrigerator for a long time.

Notes from the Field: Listeriosis Associated with Stone Fruit — United States, 2014 [MMWR]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.