The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently recalled more than 31 tons of meat and poultry after finding a contamination in potatoes from a breakfast meals food processing company, Food Poisoning Bulletin reported.
The contamination was a pathogen called listeria monocytogenes, which is a deadly bacteria that is typically found in undercooked food, the source reported. The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based breakfast food processing plant had been possibly supplying airlines with tainted breakfast meals between mid-July and September 25.
The case involved several different retail outlets, such as convenience stores, vending machines, specialty restaurants, senior living centers and the airline industry, the source reported.
According to Consumer Affairs, there were five major products that were recalled from shippers, distributors and retail locations across the nation:
- Breakfast skillet burrito with eggs, sausage and cheese
- Fiesta scramble bowl with sausage links
- Garden omelet with parslied potatoes and chicken sausage links
- Savory scrambled eggs with seasoned red skin potatoes and turkey buffet link
- Swiss cheese and mushroom omelet with seasonal tid-bit potatoes and turkey buffet sausage link
Symptoms of listeria monocytogenes
When food is consumed with listeria monocytogenes, the harmful bacteria can cause listeriosis, which is a critical infection that tends to affect older adults, FSIS reported. Listeriosis can also affect those with weak immune systems as well as women who are pregnant and their newborns.
The disease can cause loss of balance, convulsions, confusion, head and muscle aches, fever and gastrointestinal issues. According to Food Poisoning Bulletin, those who consumed these products should monitor their symptoms for at least the next 70 days and see a doctor if sickness occurs.
How to prevent contaminated products
While listeria monocytogenes is rare in processed food, it's typically caused by improperly heating products before packaging them for consumers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported. Additionally, the FDA said when heat exchangers become compromised or have pinholes, food processors are more likely to have a listeria monocytogenes contamination in their product.
Food processing facilities have to keep their shell and tube heat exchangers cleaned daily and maintained regularly to prevent any harmful bacteria from affecting their products. Certain bacteria can grow if the exact temperature isn't gauged during food processing. Having the right heat exchanger with proper utility controls can allow operators to adjust heat to achieve the required temperature to kill harmful bacteria.