In the wake of an investigation of possible listeria contamination of Blue Bell ice cream products, Sabra Dipping Company has recalled 30,000 cases of its hummus for the same reason. A random test conducted by health authorities in Michigan discovered the hummus to be possibly contaminated with listeria. The recall concerns the Classic variety of Sabra hummus.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Holton of the Michigan Department of Agriculture knows of no reported illnesses linked to Sabra hummus, but she urges consumers to be vigilant. Should they begin to feel sick as a result of eating the hummus, they are urged to contact their local health department. In order to determine the source of the bacteria, it is also of utmost importance to make a list of everything consumed in the last two to three days.
The bacteria also recently forced an Oklahoma Blue Bell ice-cream-product plant to close and recalls to be issued. Both of these recalls followed an earlier recall of several spinach brands for listeria contamination as well.
The Associated Press reported today that after being inspected by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, an Oklahoma Blue Bell facility, which was later tied to three deaths from listeria, was praised by inspectors, who found no violations. The AP obtained the report, in which the inspector notes,”Great Job! Keep it up!”
On Thursday, officials with the department defended finding no violations during the routine inspection, which took place on March 18, saying inspectors had no reason to test the plant for listeria. According to the director of the agency’s food safety division, Stan Stromberg, the Blue Bell facility had no prior instances of being linked to the food-borne illness, adding that the department was not made aware of the link between the plant and listeria until March 22. The Oklahoma facility has been linked to the listeria contamination involving Blue Bell ice cream products, and was voluntarily closed last weekend.
Blue Bell has recalled products which were produced in the Oklahoma facility. To date, eight people in Kansas and Texas were admitted to hospitals with listeria. Of those eight, three have died. In all, the ice cream maker has issued recalls in 23 states.
Four companies also voluntarily pulled their spinach products from shelves last month. Per FDA policy, the names of suppliers under investigation are not released, but Oxnard, Calif.-based Coastal Green LLC told ABC News they had supplied the spinach to three of the companies involved in the spinach recall. Spokesman for Coastal Green LLC, Paul Fanelli, said that when routine testing of its products detected listeria, they immediately notified the FDA.
Listeria lives in the digestive tracts of animals. When crops of vegetables and fruits are contaminated with animal feces and then distributed to humans, an illness called listeriosis may occur. Contamination of crops can result from tainted wash or irrigation water, or by animals who enter the fields. In order to safeguard against developing listeria, it is recommended to wash vegetables and fruit at home before serving or eating.
Although people in good health can ingest listeria without developing listeriosis, those with weakened immune systems are susceptible to becoming ill. The symptoms of listeriosis include fever, gastrointestinal symptoms and muscle aches. Diarrhea and vomiting can result in dehydration, which is especially dangerous to those who are already sick. The disease can be confirmed with lab tests, and the treatment includes fluids and antibiotics.
A list of hummus products included in the Sabra recall is available on the company’s website at sabra.com. While investigators search to find the source of the recent listeria contamination in multiple products, consumers are advised to be aware of the development of any possible symptoms in themselves, and to maintain a watchful eye on babies, the elderly and the sick who may have consumed the affected spinach, ice cream products or hummus.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Image by James – Flickr License