Here’s the good news: food recalls are in place to protect public health. The recall process involves coordination between manufacturers, public health professionals, and others.
Once in a while, we hear about a recall for a food product that we hadn’t associated with a certain pathogen. This week, we learned about a recall of hummus due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The times we’ve heard of Listeria, it’s typically been in produce, deli meats, or low-moisture foods. Who would have thought that hummus would be recalled?
All foods, regardless of their origin, how they are processed, or whether they are local or imported, have the potential to harbor pathogens (those nasty bugs) or become contaminated. It’s important to keep your guard up about food recall notices.
Recalls can result from many different pathogens. In this case, that pathogen is listeria. Listeria can cause serious illness. The CDC estimates that listeria causes over 1,600 individuals to become seriously ill each year in the US, with upwards of 250 deaths annually. LM is especially harmful to individuals with weakened immune systems, like young children and older Americans. According to the CDC, there are also unique risks for pregnant women who become infected. See CDC Listeria (Listeriosis) for more information, and visit the FDA to see if you may have an affected product.
Consider the following if you think you have recalled product in your home or office.
- Don’t panic. Not all food recall are a major threat to your health and safety. It’s important to check www.foodsafety.gov for latest information about food recalls.
- Don’t eat the food. And please don’t donate it, give it to someone else, or feed it to a pet.
- Don’t open the food, even if it’s just to take a photo to share in Facebook or Twitter. If you do open it, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Check the recall notice to find out what to do with the food. You might be best advised to return the product, or dispose of it properly.
Food is recalled out of an abundance of caution, or when there is an imminent reason to believe consumers’ health is at risk. Following these practical steps can help keep your family safe and healthy.