By: Heather Williams

Now Health Group, Inc. has issued a voluntary recall for two varieties of Ellyndale Nutty Infusions on May 5, 2017.  This recall is specifically for the Ellyndale Nutty Infusions Roasted Cashew butter in 10 ounce plastic jars (lot number 2325155 best by 2/19) and Ellyndale Nutty Infusions Ginger Wasabi Cashew Flavor in 10 ounce plastic jars (lot number 2124118 best by 3/19).  This product was distributed in limited quantities online and to retailers nation-wide.  Any consumer who purchased either of these two products with the specified lot numbers are asked to return the product to the retailer for a full refund (no receipt required).  Now Health Group, Inc. is encouraging retailers to help the recall efforts by announcing the recall lot numbers to consumers.

This recall was prompted by a routine FDA inspection in which evidence of contamination was found.  These two products are potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.  No illnesses have been reported at this time.  The facility has suspended production while an investigation is taking place.

What is Listeria?

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that causes the illness Listeriosis.  It’s a serious infection that affects immune compromised individuals such as the very young, the very old, and those with weakened immune systems.  It is also a more serious concern for pregnant women.  Listeriosis may cause miscarriage and still births, so pregnant women must be vigilant and take extra precautions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year an estimated 1,600 people get Listeriosis and about 260 die.  In general, symptoms include fever and diarrhea, while more invasive infection (when the bacteria spreads past the gut) can be more severe.  Pregnant women typically experience milder symptoms such as flu-like symptoms, while non-pregnant women may experience more severe symptoms such as headache, fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, and even convulsions.  Invasive symptoms are generally reported between 1 to 4 weeks after eating contaminated food, however some may experience symptoms in as little as one day or as late as 70 days.  Non-invasive versions of Listeriosis are often not diagnosed because otherwise healthy individuals may not present any signs or symptoms or the symptoms may be very mild. 

Listeria in the News

You may have noticed several recalls due to Listeria concerns in the news recently.  Blue Bell Creamery ice cream, Vulto Creamery Soft Raw Milk Cheese, and Oasis Brands, Inc. Cheese to name a few.  Maybe it is because I live in Texas, but most people learned quite a bit about Listeria from our beloved Blue Bell during their recall.  Several factory wide cleanings had to take place to rid the facility of the dangerous Listeria.  Warnings about the symptoms and lot numbers were constantly displayed on local news.  As a result, many believe that Listeria is only found in dairy products.  While Listeria is often found in unpasteurized dairy, making the dairy industry (including ice cream, yogurt, etc.) a target for Listeria, the bacterium is also a major issue in most cold-produced products. It can be lurking in your refrigerator in some of the packages you see every day.  It may also be found on fresh fruits and vegetables.

While Listeria is often found in un- or under-pasteurized dairy products, it can also be found in produce such as other recalled products like Packaged Salads produced at Dole Ohio facilities and CRF Frozen Foods vegetables that were also in the news recently for Listeria concerns and recalls.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself and My Family?

Handling food safely generally means to keep hot foods hot, keep cold foods cold, and clean up.  Listeria is one of the few bacteria that can survive refrigeration and even freezing. Some of the following basic food guidelines can help make your kitchen a safer place.

Clean.  Using warm soapy water, wash hands both before and after handling or preparing food.  Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables. The Mayo Clinic suggests using a scrub brush or vegetable brush under a lot of clean running water.  Be sure to wash all surfaces, cutting boards, and utensils with hot soapy water after food preparation.  Clean your refrigerator out regularly.  Immediately clean up spills of dairy or juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages and of course after raw meat and poultry.  Regularly wash the inside of your refrigerator including the shelves and inside walls. This will help reduce cross-contamination in the refrigerator.  A clean cooking and eating environment will reduce the chance of consuming Listeria contaminated foods.

Food Choices.  Those who are more susceptible to Listeria infection should make cautious food choices to avoid Listeria infection. Some types of foods have a higher risk than others. If you are immune compromised or pregnant, the Mayo Clinic suggests taking additional precautions with the following foods:

  • Soft cheeses and Mexican-style cheeses. Don’t eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue cheese or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco, unless it’s clear from the packaging that the product was made using pasteurized milk.
  • Hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats. Avoid hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats, unless they’re reheated until steaming hot. Keep fluid from hot dog packages away from other foods, utensils and food preparation surfaces. Wash your hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats or deli meats.
  • Meat spreads. Don’t eat refrigerated pates or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pates and meat spreads are acceptable.
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood. Don’t eat refrigerated smoked seafood. Such products may be labeled as nova style, lox, kippered or jerky. One exception is if you’re using these products in a casserole or other cooked dish. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood is acceptable.”

Essentially avoid unpasteurized milk, use caution with fluids from meats, avoid cold processed meats unless they are shelf stable (generally include a preservative) or will be heated to acceptable temperature range to kill the bacteria.  Refrigerate cooked food after 2 hours and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  The refrigerator should be maintained at below 40ºF and refrigerator below 0ºF.

Protect yourself and your family by knowing how to clean, prepare, and select foods that are lower risk of contamination.  Pay attention to recalls and monitor symptoms if you have already consumed the product.  Listeria is a concern, but with good choices and armed with knowledge you can enjoy knowing your food is safe.