If you buy prepackaged salad, you need to rinse it at least once before start consuming it, even if your salad says “pre-washed”. On January 22, 2016, DCD issued a warning related to prepackage and bagged salads citing a Listeria coming from a Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.
Introduction to Listeria
Listeria infection is an illness related to foodborne bacterial. The effect of this illness can be very serious for people with impaired immune system and pregnant women. Unwashed products, raw met and unpasteurized dairy can lead to this problem. Putting the products in refrigerator or freezing would help since listeria bacteria can stand it.
Usually, the infection can be eliminated by the immune system or with antibiotics. Listeria infection can cause a very serious issue under the following condition:
- A generalized blood infection (septicemia)
- Inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain (meningitis)
Here are some indication if the listeria infection spreads to your nervous system:
- Loss of balance
- Stiff neck
- Confusion or changes in alertness
You should check with your doctor if you experience nausea, fever, muscle aches, or diarrhea. The CDC estimates that 1,600 get sicj from Listeria in the US every year and 260 of them die. 2012 was the year of the last statistically significant outbreak.
More About the Outbreak
CDC has been worked together with public health officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2015 in order to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis).
These six states were reported of illness from listeria: Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
There a huge range in age in those who are affected by the bacteria. Starting from a 3 years old toddler to a 83 years old man, one of them was a pregnant woman. 12 of them were being hospitalize with one person died as a result of listeriosis.
Other brands than Dole were said to have affected the outbreak, including the following:
- Fresh Selections
- The Little Salad Bar
- Simple Truth
- President’s Choice Organic (4).
This facility sent package to the following States :
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Carolina
Even so, there still no evidence showing how the packaged salads produced at other Dole processing facilities in the United States related to illness.
Cases outside the USA
The outbreak was not only happened in the US, but has also spread north of the border and affected products in Canadian supermarkets. You can identify the affected products can be identified by seeing product code beginning with the letter A (5).
The CFIA has issued a federal recall to 48 different Dole salad blends and kits, Pre-packaged chopped salad and nine different PC Organics brand leafy greens. Up to this day, there are no cases of listeria infection in Canada.
On 22nd January, Dole Fresh Vegetables told the FDA that they would suspend the operation at the Springfield processing facility for a certain period. They also withdrew all of its Dole-branded and private label package salads process from the market.
What You Need to Do If You’ve Purchased These Products
If you’ve purchased the products, follow these guidelines from the CDC (4):
- You should throw the packaged salad in a closed plastic bag and put it in a sealed trash can to prevent others from eating it.
- Clean your refrigerator and other area where you used to store the salad with hot water and soap.
- Wash all the utensils that had contact with the packaged salads. You should also wash the dishwasher if possible or use hot water and soap to clear it.
- Rinse your hand with warm water and soap after finished cleaning up.
Then next thing to do is monitor yourself and your family and immediately go to the doctor if you experience any of symptoms above.
Protecting Your Family from Future Contamination
FDA advice to do the following step to protect your family form food-borne bacteria and illnesses (8).
Do these when preparing food:
- Wash raw products, such as vegetables and fruits thoroughly under running water before consuming. You should washed it first even though you’re going to peel the product.
- Firm produce like cucumbers and melons need to be scrubbed with a clean produce brush.
- Dry the produce with paper towel or clean cloth.
- Put vegetables, uncooked meats and poultry, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods in different places.
Here are what to do to keep your kitchen clean:
- Wash all the utensils after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
- Since Listeria monocytogenes can grow in foods in the refrigerator, set it to be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
- Clean up all spills in your refrigerator immediately – especially juices from raw meat, raw poultry, and hot dog and lunch meat packages.
- Clean the inside part of your refrigerator every week with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse it.