Fruit recalls can leave consumers with a bad taste from the experience, and late last week the FDA announced a recall of peaches, plums and nectarines for states where grocery stores carry fruit packed by Wawona Packing in California. The company voluntarily initiated the recall after internal testing revealed three pieces of tainted fruit. The company then notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and contacted stores and wholesales that carry their products. Stores carrying the fruit include Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods Market, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Costco.
Wawona has asked stores to remove the products from shelves. Customers who purchased the items between June 2 and July 12 are advised to throw them away, or return them to the store where originally purchased. Stickers on the packaging will read Sweet2Eat, Harvest Sweet, Orchard Perfect or Mrs. Smittcamp’s. Organic labels are packaged as Sweet2Eat Organic. At least one retailer, Trader Joe’s, promises customers a full refund when any of the recalled fruits are returned to stores.
To date, there have been no reports from consumers with illnesses from the fruit, but officials took proactive steps to remove the fruits, due to the risk of Listeria bacteria causing contamination. The fruits recalled include yellow and white peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots. Pluots, sometimes called plumcots, are a cross variety of an apricot and a plum.
The Wawona company website says the company made the decision to issue a nationwide recall because they do not know every location where stores may have purchased the fruit from wholesalers. The FDA website includes photos of each recalled product along with product codes and packaging descriptions.
Customers can contact Wawona Packing Co. with questions regarding the fruit recall at (888) 232-9912, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday. Brent Smittcamp, Wawona’s president, indicated that the plant’s packing lines had been shut down, and the facility has been sanitized and re-tested. No further packaging will take place until officials are certain that the facility is safe.
While this fruit recall has left many consumers with a bad taste, Angela Shaw, an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, tells consumers that since it is unknown whether the Listeria bacteria resides on the outside or inside the peach, the best course of action is to toss the fruit. Shaw says it is not possible to eliminate the bacteria by washing fruit with soap and water.
Assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at St. Louis University, Donna Duberg, told viewers on Fox News to wash hands right away before and after handling fresh fruit, clean kitchen surfaces and utensils after each use, and to cut away bruised or damaged areas. Duberg cautioned against using detergents or bleach, but advised consumers to rinse all fruit under running water.
Dr. Joshua Copel of the Yale University Medical Group told The Courant newspaper that most adults would not need to see a doctor to be tested. Copel, who specializes in maternal fetal medicine, explained that most people do not become ill from Listeria exposure. Healthy adults routinely come in contact with low Listeria monocytogenes levels and experience no ill effects, however those at risk include the elderly, adults with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and newborns. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists the most common symptoms of listeriosis as gastrointestinal issues such as fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea.
A full list of product codes for the fruit recall can be found on the FDA website. The fruit recall may leave a bad taste for consumers, and experts say it is better to discard all fruit which might be suspect. To identify products and packaging, a link to the FDA website can be found in the sources at the end of this article.
By Jim Hanemaayer