This favored fruit of China has gone from tasting delicious to being contaminated with listeriosis. This has led to the recent recall of this juicy fruit across the nation. A packing company in California, Wawona Packing Co., announced a voluntary recall of several types of stone fruits: plums, nectarines, pluots and peaches. Stone fruits are those fruits with a large seed inside. Pluots are half plum and half apricot.
Wawona disclosed the potential for a listeria contamination after internal testing procedures revealed Listeria in nectarines and in one peach. How the fruits became contaminated is not known at this time. Wawona shut down its packing facility, sanitized the affected packing lines, retested the lines and have not found any more contamination. They are currently running daily packing line tests for safety purposes.
In-store items at many of the food carriers that sell fruit purchased from Wawona are also being taken off the shelves as a precaution. These items include pies, tarts, salsas, prepared salads, cakes and similar pastries. Some of the stores affected by the recall include Kroger, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Food 4 Less, Whole Foods Market, Wegmans and Smittcamp.
Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning caused by the bacterium, listeria monocytogenes. People who need to be acutely aware of this are pregnant women, adults with a weak immune system, newborns and the elderly. Listeriosis can be found in soil and water. It can contaminate the soil through the spreading of manure as a fertilizer. Other mediums of the contamination are processed foods such as cold cut meats, soft cheeses, raw milk and food made from unpasteurized milk.
Listeriosis can be transmitted from delicious fruits like peaches to humans and animals alike. Symptoms of the infection include muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea and fever. If the infection reaches the nervous system, symptoms to be aware of are stiff neck, headache, loss of balance, confusion, or possibly convulsions. Infected women who are pregnant might only experience mild symptoms that are flu-like in nature.
August is National Peach Month. Many local farm markets, peach festivals and community gatherings may suffer a downturn in celebrations this year, due to this unappetizing scare.
The appearance of peach trees may reach as far back as 2,000 B.C. in China. Chinese culture has elevated this tree to a high significance as the tree of life and immortality. Chinese brides carry the peach blossoms during their wedding ceremony.
The tree traveled the trade routes through the Mideast to Turkey and Iran, and on to North Africa and Europe, eventually reaching America in the 1500’s. This succulent fruit is grown principally as a fruit tree, although it can also be cultivated as an ornamental tree. It comes in various colors such as pink, white, red, and also peppermint, which is a combination of red and white petals. This line of trees are not fruit bearing, and bloom in early spring. The blooms may have clusters of colorful petals in either double or single flowers.
The popularity of this favored stone fruit has waned somewhat as most commercial peach growers have customized this round stone fruit for growing and shipping them as firm fruit. This is done because of the great distance many of the stone fruits are shipped. Plant hybridization has not saved some of the other qualities of the peach, such as aroma, flavor, juiciness and the separation of the seed from the pulp. In many cases, the fruit is picked too soon and may be too firm to allow for a fruit that is more palatable than peaches grown locally or in back-yard orchards. Many fruit enthusiasts think peaches are delicious and maybe they do travel well, but contamination like listeriosis is always a threat to be guarded against.
By Andy Towle