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Massachusetts Expands Listeria-Tainted Tuna Salad Recall

Aug 14, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) expanded this week’s tuna salad recall and is now advising consumers not to eat any deli-prepared tuna salad purchased from July 26th to August 10th.  The tuna salad was recalled over concerns of potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination in bulk tuna salad manufactured by wholesale distributor Home Made Brand Foods.

The bulk distributor voluntarily recalled about 5,000 pounds of Ready-to-Eat Tuna Salad after routine sampling found the product had the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. 

The recalled tuna salad has an expiration date of August 19th and was distributed to Stop and Shop Supermarkets and other retail supermarkets and delicatessens.  Because Home Made Brand Foods is a bulk distributor and the tuna salad distribution is fairly widespread, the Massachusetts DPH is urging consumers to discard and not consume any tuna salad purchased from retail outlets between the two-three week period mentioned.

While no cases of listeriosis infection have yet been reported in connection with this recall, anyone feeling ill after eating deli-prepared tuna salad dated during this time period should seek immediate medical attention.  Consumers with questions or concerns may call the DPH Food Protection Program at 617-983-6712.

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious food poisoning infection.  Listeriosis outbreaks have been associated with consuming unpasteurized or raw milk, contaminated soft cheeses, vegetables, and ready-to-eat meats.  The bacterium is found in soil and water and animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill, contaminating foods of animal origin such as meats and dairy products.  Because Listeria thrives in the cold, refrigerated food products provide an ideal environment for the germ.

The disease typically affects pregnant women—often resulting in stillborn deaths or miscarriage—newborns, the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, those undergoing chemotherapy, and those with weakened immune systems and HIV.  Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea.  If infection spreads to the nervous system, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur.

Meanwhile, this March, Stop & Shop Supermarket voluntarily recalled four types of prepared chicken due to potential listeria contamination.  Also, in 1998, 15 deaths and six miscarriages were linked to listeria traced to meat shipped from the Bil Mar factory near Zeeland and, just last week, the FSIS announced that individually packaged ready-to-eat chicken and turkey sandwiches, manufactured by DBC, Inc.—which also does business as World Class Canapés—were recalled over Listeria contamination concerns discovered through microbiological sampling.

Generally considered a rare food borne illness, in recent months, listeria has been the focus of a number of outbreaks and we have long been reporting on the rash of food borne contaminations from Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, Salmonella, and Botulism, to name a few.  Part of the reason such illnesses are on the rise, is this country’s outdated and under-funded food-surveillance system that has become overwhelmed by the emergence of mega-farms, -distribution centers, and -transporters.


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