You Probably Just Shouldn’t Eat Anything With Sunflower Seeds In It For A While

Image courtesy of (Javcon117*)

Sunflower seeds are a satisfying snack, and especially good to eat during a long drive. They’re also a common ingredient in cereals, granola, granola bars, protein bars, cookies, and you can even buy sunflower seed butter. We didn’t realize quite how popular they are until a company called SunOpta found Listeria monocytogenes contamination after routine testing of their bulk sunflower seeds. Since then, companies from supermarkets to sporting goods stores have been recalling their products that contain sunflower seeds, and those little seeds are everywhere.

With that, maybe it’s a good idea to just…skip eating anything with sunflower seeds in it for a while. The recall includes hundreds of items under dozens of brands. Food Safety News notes that some of the recall notices aren’t even being sent to the Food and Drug Administration, so consider checking the labels on any snacks that you eat for sunflower seeds, then checking the company website or even calling them to find out if the product has been recalled.

Avoiding Listeria illness is especially important for children, elderly people, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems, since they’re more likely to develop serious complications, which include septicemia, meningitis, stillbirth, and miscarriage.

Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems. Other symptoms can include fatigue, headache, stiff neck, confusion, or seizures if the illness worsens. People who are healthy may not have any symptoms at all.

Recalls like this give you insight into how sprawling and complicated our food system is. One single recall announcement from a food packaging company near Buffalo, NY includes 15-pound bulk containers of snack mixes for re-packaging and re-sale, and then those items packaged for retail sale under the brand names Alpine Valley, Earth Fare, Flave Beach, Gonzo 2 Go, Foodhold USA, SSP, Stewarts, Tops, and Wegmans.

A company called Rucker’s Wholesale packages its snack products under the labels of a variety of farm and sporting goods stores, so it recalled bags of sunflower seeds as well as Cajun Hot Mix and Sweet ‘n’ Salty snack mixes. The stores these products sold in include Atwood’s Ranch and Home, Bass Pro Shops, Big R, Bomgaar’s, Cabela’s, C-A-L Ranch Stores, Coastal, F & S Trading, Family Choice, Farm & Home Supply, Fin Feather Fur Outfitters, Gebo’s, Jay’s Sporting Goods, Murdochs (Moo’d Food), Rural King, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Theisen’s and Uncle Buck’s.

That’s just two announcements from manufacturers, and there are dozens more of those covering hundreds more brands and retailers. You wouldn’t skim that entire list even if we printed it. Check your snacks for sunflower seeds and contact the manufacturer accordingly.