If you are going to eat “pre-washed” salad, you should not trust the label. Make sure it is rinsed properly before you consume it.
If you don’t know already, the CDC warned in January this year about Listeria associated with prepackaged and bagged salads being processed in a Dole facility in Springfield, OH.
Why you should worry about Listeria?
Listeria is a kind of infection which is an illness caused by foodborne bacteria. If you have impaired immune system or if you are pregnant, it will be quite serious for you. The infection originates from different sources. It can come from raw meat or if the produce is unwashed. It can also originate in unpasteurized dairy products. Unfortunately, freezing and refrigeration cannot kill Listeria bacteria.
There are two ways to deal with the infection. Usually, antibiotics are used for treating it. But your immune system can also work against it. But sometimes listeria infection could also create life-threatening complications.
The kind of complications can include generalized blood infection or septicemia, and inflammation in the fluid and membranes around your brain, also called meningitis.
The listeria infection can also spread to the nervous system. In such a case, the symptoms could be a stiff neck, headache, and convulsions. You can also suffer from loss of balance and confusion. There can also be alteration in your state of alertness.
The moment you suffer from muscle aches, fever, diarrhea or nausea, you should visit your doctor or hospital immediately. According to the CDC, Listeria infections make around 1,600 Americans sick every year. The CDC also claims that around 260 patients died from it. 2012 had a big outbreak according to records.
The CDC started working with public health officials from many states and with the FDA in September last year. The goal of the group was to investigate the Listeria monocytogenes infection or listeriosis outbreak in a number of states. It has been reported in the following 6 states and if you are from any one of these, you should take care:
– New Jersey
– New York
Listeria is capable of causing a severe and life-threatening illness.
The bacteria affected individuals in all age groups, starting from 3 year olds to those who are 83. A pregnant woman has also been reported. A dozen individuals were hospitalized in Michigan, and one of them died because of listeriosis (Source)
According to officials, this outbreak is not just limited to Dole. Many other brands have also been affected. So you should be careful about the brands Simple Truth, The Little Salad Bar, Fresh Selections, Marketside, and the President’s Choice Organic.
These packaged salads have been delivered to the follow states from this facility: Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Connecticut, Louisiana, Indiana, Georgia, Minnesota, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, Missouri, Ohio, Mississippi, South Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.
As per latest reports, the authorities don’t yet have any evidence linking the packaged salads from Dole processing facilities in the country to this illness.
Outbreak Outside The US
It is not just the US where there is an outbreak of Listeria. In the north, it has also crossed the border and products have been found to be affected in Canadian supermarkets too. Canadians can identify the affected products from the product code. Avoid all of these products having code starting with the letter A.
You should be concerned about four dozen salads and kits from Dole. A federal recall has been issued by CFIA for 48 products from Dole. This includes pre-packaged:
– Chopped salads
– Salad kits
– Salad blends
This also includes 9 President’s Choice Organics brand leafy greens. You can check the list of all these products at here.
The Canadian authorities have not yet reported any cases of infection due to these bacteria.
But after the official release, Dole Fresh Vegetables has shown some action. They have reported to the Food and Drug Administration on the date of the officials’ announcement about the outbreak (22nd January) that they will halt operations at their Springfield processing facility on a temporary basis.
It has also withdrawn Dole-brand and its private label packaged salads (which are processed at Springfield facility), on a voluntary basis.
How Should You Deal with Purchased Dole Salads?
The CDC has released some guidelines for those who already have purchased these Dole salads:
– The packaged salad should be disposed off in a properly closed plastic bag into a sealed trash can. Make sure that no one can eat it – not even animals.
– Make sure your refrigerator drawer and all the places are washed where you stored the packaged salads. Use soap and hot water.
– Make sure all the utensils, cutting boards and surfaces used for serving/storing the packaged salads are also washed. You can use a dishwasher or soap and hot water. Then sanitize the area using a solution. Vinegar and hot water mixture is a good option.
– Once you have cleaned up everything, make sure to wash your hands too using soap and warm water.
You should also notice your family and your own health for any symptoms as given above. If you suspect anything, you should immediately call your doctor.
Preventing Any Potential Contamination
You should also take steps to prevent any contamination. FDA has recommended a set of steps to prevent contamination from these food-borne bacteria and from becoming ill.
– Make sure that all raw produce like fruits and veggies are rinsed properly. Use running tap water to rinse them before you eat, cook or cut them. You should wash them even when you are going to peel the produce.
– If you going to consume firm produce like cucumbers and melons, make sure they are scrubbed first using a cleanse produce brush.
– Once rinsed, use a paper towel or clean clothe for drying the produce.
– Make sure that uncooked poultry and meats are always kept separated from cooked food, ready-to-eat food, and veggies.
Maintain a Clean Kitchen
– Make sure that all the items and places involved in uncooked food preparation and handling should be washed. This includes the knives, cutting boards, countertops, and even your hands should be washed properly.
– You should know that Listeria monocytogenes is also capable of growing in your food stored in the refrigerator. It is recommended to set your refrigerator temperature at least at the max at 40°F. The freezer should have 0°F at the most. It will be better to have them cooler than this.
– If there is any spill in the refrigerator, make sure it is cleansed immediately. This is specifically important when you have spilled juices from your lunch meat or hot dog packages, raw poultry, or raw meat.
– The shelves and inner walls must be cleaned at least once in a week. Use liquid soap and hot water, and rinse properly.