A major recall took place across the nation this week for a feared culprit in the food product hummus, which is suspected to have Listeria bacteria contamination. The discovery was made by the Texas Department of Health during routine testing of hummus samples from Lansal Inc., which distributes the product under Hot Mama’s Food label. Once discovered, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the recall of over seven tons of dip products, including hummus.
The FDA reported that Lansal Inc. voluntarily contacted all retailers and distributors that were impacted to alert them about the nature of the contamination. The FDA urges anyone who purchased any of the products to either discard any samples in their homes or return them for a complete refund.
Also according to the FDA, the outbreak of the same listeria bacteria was found in Sherman Produce, a St. Louis-based company. Sherman Produce had to recall 241 cases of walnuts, which were packaged in bulk cardboard boxes of 25 pounds each. Other walnuts were packaged as Schnucks brand in 10 oz trays and had a UPC code of 00338390032 and had best buy dates of March 15 and April 15. Those items were sold in Illinois and Missouri between March and May 2014.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 58 percent of Listeria infections occur in those 65 years and older. Nearly 1,600 become ill and about 250 of those individuals pass away form the infection each year, and 90 percent of those fall within the high risk group.
Eating contaminated food is primarily how this bacterium, listeria monocytogenes, is spread. Listeria can be dangerous to anyone with a compromised immune system whether young or elderly. It is also of great concern for pregnant women. Short term side effects are high fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and headaches. Should the Listeria spread to nervous system, those exposed to the bacterial infection may also experience headaches, stiff neck, confusion or changes in alertness, loss of balance and convulsions. If pregnant, the symptoms will be milder for the mother, including irritability, fever and vomiting, but they could be quite severe for the baby. The baby could be born with a life-threatening infection immediately after birth, or the baby could die before birth. These guidelines for signs and symptoms come from the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic strongly urges attention be given to these symptoms, as the more severe symptoms may mean that the infection has progressed to bacterial meningitis, which can be life-threatening.
Medical author Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD, concurs with the above information and adds that what makes this particular bacteria so dangerous is that it has the ability to invade and duplicate itself inside human cells. Left unattended, the more severe symptoms will include spinal meningitis, brain abscesses, mental changes, or even death. The encouraging word is that most people have what is referred to as self limited disease. Those who are at higher risk due to a depressed immune response, would be those with HIV, cancer and pregnant females.
Most people with normal immune function will be able to spontaneously boot the infection out; however, those with low immune risk factors should receive IV antibiotics as quickly as possible. Those concerned with more serious symptoms should get a definitive diagnosis, which consists of isolating the blood of the patient, cerebrospinal fluid or other body fluids for testing. The prognosis for recovery is excellent if already in good health, or if early diagnosis is sought and properly treated.
Hummus is actually a mystery to millions of Americans who have never heard of it. It is made from ground chickpeas and sesame seeds, a touch of lemon, garlic and olive oil. Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. Homemade versions can be both tasty and cost effective. This concoction originally comes from the Middle East and is known to keep blood sugar from spiking due to its balance of fiber and protein. The Listeria Bacteria, which was the real culprit in this hummus food recall, can be minimized by tossing the product or returning for a full refund. Consumers may call toll free (877) 550-0694 seven days a week from 8 AM to 8 PM EST.
By Jill Boyer-Adriance