Fruit-borne listeria in multiple states kills 1, hospitalizes at least 10

Image courtesy of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Peaches, nectarines and plums tainted with listeria have caused one death and put 10 people in the hospital with food poisoning across seven states, federal officials say.

The listeria outbreak also has caused one premature birth, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. One of the hospitalized patients was pregnant, and she went into early labor as a result of her illness.

The death from listeria infection occurred in California, the CDC says.

Other states reporting food poisonings from listeria-tainted stone fruit include Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Florida.

The outbreak has been traced back to whole peaches, plums and nectarines produced by HMC Farms and sold in 2022 and 2023 between May 1 and Nov. 15 of those years, the CDC says.

HMC Farms has issued a voluntary recall of peaches, plums and nectarines sold in retail stores at those times, the CDC says. The fruit was sold individually and in two-pound bags.

Although the recalled fruit is no longer available at stores, some shoppers might have frozen their fruit purchases at home for later use. The CDC is urging consumers to check their freezers for the recalled fruit and throw it out.

The outbreak is not related to a salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe that was announced late last week.

Listeria is the third leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States, the CDC says.

Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than others to get a listeria infection, according to the CDC, and infection during pregnancy results in fetal loss in about 20% of cases and newborn death in 3% of cases.

Others at increased risk include seniors 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems, the CDC says. About 87% of cases not associated with pregnancy need hospitalization, and about 1 in 6 patients die.

Common symptoms include fever, muscle aches and tiredness, the CDC says. Symptoms usually start within two weeks of eating food tainted with listeria, but can start as early as the same day or as late as 10 weeks later.

Investigators are working to identify any other fruit products that may be contaminated with listeria, the CDC says.

The CDC recommends that consumers clean their refrigerator, container and any surfaces that may have touched the recalled fruit. Listeria can survive in a refrigerator and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about listeria. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on the fruit recall.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Nov. 20, 2023

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