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Possible Listeria Contamination behind Recall of Meat and Poultry Products

Possible Listeria Contamination behind Recall of Meat and Poultry Products

Thousands of pounds of ready to eat meat and poultry products were recalled by a Minnesota company last week. Reichel Foods, a Rochester company, recalled 15,880 pounds of Armour Active Packs due to possible Listeria contamination.

No illnesses have been reported from the contaminated meat. Reichel Foods discovered the possible contamination through routine testing of the meat products that was done by an outside company.

The specific products recalled were Armour Active Pack Turkey & Cheese Wrap and Armour Active Pack Ham & Cheese Wrap. They were produced between July 23 and July 26, 2012. These products were shipped to distribution centers in Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas. For more information about the products, including identifying product numbers, visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website.

Listeria contamination is one of the biggest problems in our food system. The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil and water. It can live in a food manufacturing or packaging plant for a very long time.

According to the CDC, Listeria has been found in foods that are raw, like uncooked meats and vegetables and in foods that become contaminated after cooking or processing, such as soft cheeses, processed meats like hot dogs and deli meat (including products in factory-sealed packages as well as products sold at deli counters), and smoked seafood. Unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses and other foods made from unpasteurized milk are particularly likely to contain the Listeria bacterium.

Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in some ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after factory cooking but before packaging. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in some foods in the refrigerator.

It is important to wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat and deli meat. It is also important to thoroughly clean cutting boards and other utensils that have touched raw meat and deli meats, and to make sure no meat juices touch other food products. Make sure your meat is thoroughly cooked to rid it of all pathogens. Find out more about Listeria and how the CDC recommends you reduce your risk for listeriosis.

Although many people will not become seriously ill from eating Listeria-contaminated food, it is very dangerous for pregnant women, newborns, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems. Listeria infection in pregnant women may not manifest in very serious symptoms for the mother, but can cause miscarriage, stillborn babies, premature birth and serious and life-threatening infection in the newborn.

Elderly people and those with compromised immune systems can experience severe and deadly illnesses from Listeria, such as septicemia, a serious blood infection, or meningitis, which is brain swelling that is accompanied by high fever and headache.

If you have become seriously ill after consuming food that has been contaminated with Listeria, you may have a personal injury claim against the food processor of manufacturer. Food preparers have a responsibility to handle your food safely to minimize the possible exposure to bacteria. If you think you have eaten Listeria-contaminated food, you should seek help from a healthcare professional right away.

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