By:  Jory D. Lange, Jr.

On March 16, 2017, Advanced Fresh Concepts (“AFC”) voluntarily recalled its Edamame (Soybeans) due to potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes. Random testing conducted by AFC’s Quality Assurance Program discovered the Listeria contamination, prompting the recall. No illnesses have been reported yet.

Which Lots Have Been Recalled?

Advanced Fresh Concepts voluntarily recalled its Edamame (Soybeans) with UPC 0-23012-00261-9, dated between 01/03/2017 and 03/17/2017.  AFC packaged and sold the Edamame, under refrigeration, in 8.0 oz (227 g) packages. The packages are labeled “Edamame – Soybeans in Pods”.  AFC sold its Edamame to retail sushi counters in grocery stores, cafeterias, and corporate dining rooms in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. This particular product is not sold frozen and is ready-to-eat upon purchase.

According to AFC’s recall notice, “AFC has notified all recall locations of the recall.  Therefore, the product should no longer be available for purchase.” A list of locations where AFC food products are sold can be found here.

What is Listeria?

AFC’s recall notice admits that:

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or older adults, pregnant women, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and fetal infection among pregnant women. No illnesses have been reported to date.”

What Should You Watch For?

If you ate Advanced Fresh Concept’s Edamame before learning of the Listeria recall, and believe you may be ill, here are signs you should watch for.  When Listeria causes gastroenteritis, the CDC reports that symptoms usually develop within a few hours to two or three days.  On the other hand, when the more severe, invasive form of Listeriosis develops, it could take anywhere from three days to three months for symptoms to appear.

Listeria symptoms are variable from person to person. As with other foodborne pathogens, Listeria can cause fever and diarrhea. The people at highest risk for Listeriosis include: pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged sixty-five and older, and people with weakened immune systems. In otherwise healthy adults, the non-invasive gastrointestinal form of Listeria usually resolves. But the more serious invasive form of Listeria can cause septicemia (blood infection) and meningitis (central nervous system issues). The CDC advises that:

  • “Pregnant women: Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.”
  • “People other than pregnant women: Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.”

How to Reduce Your Risk of Listeria Infection

If the recalled Edamame is in your home, do not eat it.

In prior recalls of Listeria-contaminated foods, the CDC has recommended that people:

  • “Throw the [product] away in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people and animals from eating it.”
  • “Wash the refrigerator drawer and other areas where the [product] was stored with hot water and soap.”
  • “Wash cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store recalled [product]. If possible, use a dishwasher; otherwise, use hot water and soap, followed by sanitizing with a solution of one tablespoon chlorine bleach added to one gallon of hot water.”
  • “Wash your hands with warm water and soap after cleaning up.”

If you have already eaten food that may be contaminated with Listeria, such as the recalled Edamame, the CDC advises:

  • “You should seek medical care and tell the doctor about eating possibly contaminated food if you have a fever and other symptoms of possible listeriosis, such as fatigue and muscle aches, within two months after eating possibly contaminated food. This is especially important if you are pregnant, age 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system.”
  • “If you ate food possibly contaminated with Listeriaand do not feel sick, most experts believe you do not need tests or treatment. Talk with your medical provider if you have questions about what to do after eating possibly contaminated food.”

How to Report a Food Poisoning Illness

Most foodborne illnesses in the United States go unreported. State and local health agencies strongly urge patients diagnosed with food poisoning to report cases of food poisoning. As Maryland’s DHMH puts it, “Reporting cases of known or suspected infectious diseases to public health authorities in Maryland serves to protect the public’s health by ensuring the proper identification and follow-up of cases. Public health workers at both local and state levels follow individual cases to ensure proper treatment, identify potential sources of infection, provide education to reduce the risk of transmission, identify susceptible contacts, and take other measures aimed at reducing the spread of disease. Analysis of data across all cases helps to monitor the impact of those conditions, measure trends, identify areas of risk, detect outbreaks, monitor control efforts, and allocate resources effectively.” To make it easier to report instances of serious foodborne illness in your state, UnsafeFoods.com has compiled a fifty state list of health departments and their contact information.

About Advanced Fresh Concepts

Advanced Fresh Concepts is based in Rancho Dominguez, California. According to AFC’s website, “AFC Franchise Corp. is the largest franchisor of supermarket-based food service counters in the United States. Our food service counters feature sushi and/or other delicious Asian cuisine. In addition to supermarkets, we can also be found in other segments, such as military commissaries, university campus food courts, corporate office food courts, among others.” AFC reports that, “The fresh products we offer are available for purchase at any of the food service counters independently owned and operated by franchisees throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. There are currently over 3,800 locations. Founded in 1986, AFC Franchise Corp. has become the premier grab-and-go sushi and Asian cuisine company in North America, with experience that spans decades. We are continuously expanding in order to reach an ever growing consumer base.”

Continuing Coverage

At UnsafeFoods.com, we are providing continuing coverage of the Advanced Fresh Concepts Edamame (Soybean) recall.

Robins Cloud LLP is a national law firm focused on helping families who have been harmed by large corporations. Robins Cloud LLP helps victims of defective products and foodborne illnesses.