Listeria Contamination in Fruit

By now, most people have heard about the recent fruit recall due to suspected Listeria contamination. Wawona Packing Co. initiated a nationwide voluntary recall on July 19, 2014 of peaches, plums, nectarines, and plumcots that were packaged between June 1, 2014 and July 12, 2014.  These products were sold at Costco, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Sam’s Club.  Customers who have purchased any of these fruits are advised to discard of them or return them to the store where they were purchased.  These fruits can be identified with the label “SWEET 2 EAT”.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium found in soil and water which can contaminate foods such as meats and dairy products.  This is why pregnant women are typically recommended to avoid refrigerated deli meats and unpasteurized cheeses.  Listeria is killed by cooking or pasteurization.  Less commonly, it can contaminate fruits or vegetables exposed to the bacterium.  The most common symptoms of Listeriosis are diarrhea, fever and muscle aches.

Listeria infection is of particular concern to pregnant women as it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or neonatal infection.  Therefore, if you have consumed the fruits noted above in the last few weeks and begin experiencing fever or diarrhea, you should contact your obstetrician for testing.  However, it is important to note that at this point, there have been no cases of Listeriosis related to the consumption of these fruits.

According to the CDC, “Listeria is found in the environment and all people are exposed to it regularly. Therefore, there is no clinical value in performing laboratory testing on asymptomatic patients, even if higher risk.”  In a symptomatic patient, Listeria can be detected with a blood culture; serologic testing is not recommended.  Treatment with antibiotics such as Amoxicillin is generally curative, but would only be indicated if infection is confirmed.  If you have any questions regarding this recall or Listeria infection, you should discuss this with your obstetrician who can refer you for a perinatology consultation at our office.