Kathleen A. Glass, Max C. Golden, Brandon J. Wanless, Wendy Bedale, Charles Czuprynski Author Affiliations Food Research Institute, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
A 2014 multistate listeriosis outbreak was linked to consumption of caramel-coated apples, an unexpected and previously unreported vehicle for Listeria monocytogenes. This outbreak was unanticipated because both the pH of apples (<4.0) and the water activity of the caramel coating (<0.80) are too low to support Listeria growth. In this study, Granny Smith apples were inoculated with approximately 4 log10 CFU of L. monocytogenes (a cocktail of serotype 4b strains associated with the outbreak) on each apple’s skin, stem, and calyx. Half of the apples had sticks inserted into the core, while the remaining apples were left intact. Apples were dipped into hot caramel and stored at either 7°C or 25°C for up to 11 or 28 days, respectively. Data revealed that apples with inserted sticks supported significantly more L. monocytogenes growth than apples without sticks under both storage conditions. Within 3 days at 25°C, L. monocytogenes populations increased >3 log10 in apples with sticks, whereas only a 1-log10 increase was observed even after 1 week for caramel-coated apples without sticks. When stored at 7°C, apples with sticks exhibited an approximately 1.5-log10 increase in L. monocytogenes levels at 28 days, whereas no growth was observed in apples without sticks. We infer that insertion of a stick into the apple accelerates the transfer of juice from the interior of the apple to its surface, creating a microenvironment at the apple-caramel interface where L. monocytogenes can rapidly grow to levels sufficient to cause disease when stored at room temperature.
Neither caramel nor apples are a food where the pathogenic bacterium Listeria monocytogenes should grow, as caramel does not contain enough free water and apples are too acidic. Caramel-coated apples, however, were recently linked to a deadly outbreak of listeriosis. We hypothesized that inserting a stick into the apple releases juice to the interface between the apple and caramel, providing a more hospitable environment than either component alone. To test this hypothesis, apples were inoculated with L. monocytogenes prior to caramel dipping. Some apples had sticks inserted into them before dipping, while others did not. No growth of L. monocytogenes occurred on refrigerated caramel apples without sticks, whereas slow growth was observed on refrigerated caramel apples with sticks. In contrast, significant pathogen growth was observed within 3 days at room temperature on caramel apples with sticks inserted. Food producers should consider interfaces between components within foods as potential niches for pathogen growth.
Citation Glass KA, Golden MC, Wanless B, Bedale W, Czuprynski C. 2015. Growth of Listeria monocytogenes within a caramel-coated apple microenvironment. mBio 6(5):e01232-15. doi:10.1128/mBio.01232-15.
On September 16, 2015, Karoun Dairies, Inc. voluntarily recalled and ceased production of certain cheeses that the company distributes due to possible contamination with Listeria. The recall includes several brands and types of cheeses that were distributed to retail outlets in the United States. Products were sold under the following brands: Karoun, Arz, Gopi, Queso Del Valle, Central Valley Creamery, and Yanni. Products are vacuum packed, in jars or in pails. Weights vary from 5 ounces to 30 pounds. A full list of cheeses is available on the Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers page.
The CDC has reported that twenty-four people infected with one of the closely related Listeria strains have been reported from nine states since August 8, 2010. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: California (14), Colorado (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (1), New York (2), Ohio (1), Tennessee (1), and Washington (1).
Dates of Listeria specimen collection range from August 8, 2010 to August 24, 2015. The cluster was first identified in August 2015 after investigators saw an increase in one of the five rare PFGE fingerprints reported to PulseNet. WGS found that the four other PFGE fingerprints were closely related genetically to the first PFGE fingerprint. Illnesses associated with those PFGE fingerprints were added to the investigation, including illnesses that occurred over 5 years ago. Additional illnesses are under investigation.
Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 92, and the median age is 77. Seventy-five percent of ill people are female. Twenty-one (91%) of 23 ill people for whom information is available reported being hospitalized. Five of the illnesses were pregnancy-related, and one illness resulted in a fetal loss. One death was reported from Ohio.
Appeeling Fruit Inc. of Dauberville, PA, is voluntarily recalling a limited number of consumer packages of fresh sliced apples with Best-if-Used-by dates of 09/14/15 and 09/21/15 due to the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
To date, health authorities have not linked any illnesses to this recall. No other products are affected by this recall.
The recalled product was shipped to retail distribution centers, wholesalers, and foodservice customers in the states of Florida, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, 2015.
Consumers can identify the recalled consumer products by the brand, UPC codes, and Best-if-Used-by dates provided in the table below.
The recall is being initiated after the company was informed that an environmental sample taken in the production facility as part of a routine sampling program tested positive for the bacteria. None of the final product tested positive, and subsequent test results from the facility have been negative.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene say in a news release Friday that tests show that some products made by Picnic Gourmet Spreads may be contaminated.
The department says routine retail sampling and subsequent analysis revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the products.
The products include Red Pepper Feta Cheese Spread, Moroccan Cilantro Cheese Spread, Tandoori Garlic Cheese Spread, Herbed Goat Cheese, Parmesan Cheese Spread, and Chipotle Sage Cheese Spread. The spreads were distributed to stores in Maryland, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
The agency says Picnic Gourmet Spreads has ceased production. Health officials say anyone who has Picnic Gourmet Spreads products should throw them away.
Bonduelle USA Inc. of Brockport, NY is recalling 9,335 cases of frozen corn because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
The frozen cut corn was distributed to stores in the following states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.
The affected frozen cut corn was distributed in poly bags under the following labels and codes:
- WYLWOOD Super Sweet Whole Kernel Corn, NET WT. 16 OZ (1 LB), UPC 051933002401, Codes: Best By June 2017 K51564 and K51574;
- MARKET BASKET Cut Corn, NET WT. 16 OZ. (1 LB.), UPC 049705693414, Code: Best By June 2017 K51574;
- Bountiful Harvest WHOLE KERNEL CUT CORN, NET WT. 40 OZ. (2.5 LBS.), UPC 822486120597, Code: Best By June 2017 K51574;
- WEST CREEK FROZEN VEGETABLES Cut Corn, NET WT. 2.5 LBS., UPC 00806795285239 Code: Best By June 2017 K51574.
The company has not received any complaints in relation to this product and is not aware of any illnesses associated with the product to date.
The recall was the result of product being tested at retail by the State of Tennessee which had tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The company has ceased distribution of the product, and the company and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.
General Mills recalled a “limited quantity” of Cascadian Farm frozen green beans after a package of the product tested positive for listeria.
No illnesses have been reported, General Mills said. Listeria is a bacteria that causes listeriosis, a serious infection with symptoms including fever and gastrointestinal problems.
General Mills, based in suburban Minneapolis, said the voluntary recall involves 10-ounce bags of Cascadian Farm Cut Green Beans with either of two “better if used by dates” stamped on the package: “10APR2016” and “11APR2016.” The recalled products were distributed nationwide.
The company didn’t specify the quantity of the recall in pounds. Cascadian Farm is a major brand in the organic food market.
General Mills said the recall “is being issued as a precaution after one package of finished product tested positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes.” The recalled product was produced and packaged over two days in March 2014.
The California Department of Public Health is reporting that cold smoked salmon is being recalled for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
There is no word on whether or not any illnesses have been reported. Illnesses caused by this bacteria can take up to 70 days to appear.
The recalled products are Cold Smoked Salmon Deli Trays and Cold Smoked Salmon Trim produced by Certified Smoked Fish of Gardena, California. The lot number is #188 and other codes are CS300 on the trays, and CST50 on the trim. The product was produced on 7/7/2015.
You can see the stores where the salmon was sold by visiting the CDPH web site.
Good Seed Inc. of Springfield, VA, is recalling all packages of soybean sprouts and mung bean sprouts because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The company announced a similar recall last month, also for potential Listeria contamination.
The most recent problem was discovered through surveillance monitoring coordinated by the Virginia Rapid Response Team (RRT), Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and testing by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, which revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the product.
The following products are being recalled by the firm:
- 1-lb. bags of soybean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “GOODSEED Soy Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC Code of “21111 10035″ produced on or after May 8, 2015.
- 1-lb. bags of mung bean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “GOODSEED Mung Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC code of “21111 20136″ produced on or after May 8, 2015.
- 2-lb. bags of soybean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “GOODSEED Soy Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC Code of “21112 58772″ produced on or after May 8, 2015.
- 2-lb. bags of mung bean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled “GOODSEED Mung Bean Sprouts” “Keep Refrigerated” with a UPC code of “21111 25871″ produced on or after May 8, 2015.
- 10-lb. bags of soybean sprouts in black plastic bags labeled with a sticker “GOODSEED Soy Bean Sprouts” produced on or after May 8, 2015.
- 10-lb. bags of mung bean sprouts in clear plastic bags labeled with a sticker “GOODSEED Mung Bean Sprouts” produced on or after May 8, 2015.
The recalled products were distributed to retail stores in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.
Shirks Meats of Dundee, NY, is recalling “Smoked Andouille Sausage” due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.
The recalled in-store packed “Smoked Andouille Sausage” comes in a clear plastic package with a date of 6-5-15 on it. Package sizes varied from 9-12 ounces. The “Smoked Andouille Sausage” was sold only from the retail location at 4342 John Green Rd. in Dundee, NY.
The recall was initiated after routine sampling by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and subsequent analysis of the product by New York State Food Laboratory personnel found Listeria monocytogenes present in the product.