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Listeria Tainted Beef Jerky Recalled

May 12, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP R&R Alsatian Sausage and Products has recalled its beef jerky products that were sold in bulk quantities at its Castroville location on April 25 and later.  The recall has been initiated due to possible contamination with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, according to the Department of State Health Services in Texas.

Laboratory testing of the product conducted as part of a routine health services inspection detected Listeria monocytogenes in samples of the beef jerky.  Consumers who have the product should not eat it and should destroy it or return it to R&R. Packages contain the product name and company name.

Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning generated by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and is dangerous to the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, those with chronic medical conditions, people with HIV, or those who are undergoing chemotherapy.  Most experience only mild flu like symptoms—fever, muscle aches, nausea, or diarrhea.  In serious cases, the disease spreads to the nervous system, causing headaches, stiff neck, and convulsions.  In pregnant women, Listeriosis can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.  Listeria lives in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, and food and can easily contaminate dairy and beef products; listeria thrives in cold environments.

This year, listeria has been the focus of a number of outbreaks, including three cases in North Carolina linked to soft cheeses and an outbreak at Massachusetts’ Whittier Farms dairy where four people died and more were sickened.  In Washington, the Ca Rem #1 Ice Cream, SeaTac recalled coconut-flavored popsicles for listeria contamination; the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) alerted the public to avoid consuming smoked pork and beef bratwurst produced by J&B Meats; Meijer Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, pulled 2,184 pounds of frozen entrees for possible contamination; and Stop and Shop recalled four types of prepared chicken.  Raw milk from Piney Ridge dairy farm and Clark and Elaine Duncan's farm was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes in Pennsylvania.  Recently, the Rhode Island Department of Health issued a warning about soy sprouts infected with listeria that were sold under the Chang Farms label.  Last week, in a second such move, Gourmet Boutique of Queens, New York recalled about 286,000 pounds of fresh and frozen beef, pork, and poultry products that may be contaminated with listeria, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said.

Meanwhile, in February, The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new draft compliance policy for control of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods.  This represents the first time different policies have been created for foods that do and do not support growth of the toxic organism.  The American Meat Institute (AMI) has long looked to the FSIS to adopt a similar science-based policy reflecting international standards adopted by Europe, Canada, and other nations.  For foods that do not support the growth of the listeria bacteria, the FDA will revise its tolerance level; the “zero tolerance” standard for ready-to-eat foods that do support the growth of the bacteria will not change.

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