A recently implemented soybean sprout recall has been expanded. The recalled Henry’s Farm Inc. soybean sprouts have the potential to be contaminated with the dangerous, sometimes deadly, Listeria monocytogenes pathogen, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced.
The Henry’s Farm soybean sprout recall now includes Natto Soybean Sprouts. The recall was initially implement on April 27, 2012 and involves sprouts distributed to retail stores in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. The following products are involved:
- All clear plastic packages containing 1.5 pound of Grown in Natural Spring Water Soybean Sprouts. The packages were not coded.
- All bulk—approximately 10-pound—plastic bags of Soybean Sprouts. The packages were neither coded nor labeled.
- All clear plastic packages containing 1-pound Grown in Natural Spring Water Natto Soybean Sprouts. The packages were not coded.
No illness has been reported, to date, in connection with consumption of these products; however, as we’ve long explained, it is important to bear in mind that the Listeria pathogen thrives in cold environments, such as refrigerators. The Listeria pathogen also has a fairly long incubation period; up to 70 days, and well tolerates heat and dry temperatures, adding further challenges to the pathogen’s eradication.
Also, as we’ve long written, because sprouts are often eaten raw with no additional treatment, such as cooking, which eliminates bacteria, washing sprouts does not necessarily remove the bacteria that grows within the sprouts and that cannot be washed away. Over the past 15 years, at least 30 outbreaks of food poisoning have been linked to eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts, said the FDA. We’ve also long explained that sprouts present a unique food poisoning challenge in that they can become tainted prior to harvesting, when growing and, the conditions required for sprout growing are optimal for growing pathogens: Bacteria need the right temperature, nutrients, and water and sprouts grow in watery, warm environments, ideal for rapid bacterial growth.
Listeria monocytogenes can lead to the listeriosis infection, which is potentially fatal and can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, and nausea, especially in those with weakened immune systems, infants, and the elderly. Vulnerable populations, such as the developing fetus, can suffer serious central nervous system problems. The infection can also prompt premature births, or the death of the fetus via miscarriage and stillbirth; pregnant women are 20 times likelier to become infected. Listeriosis can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and can also lead to neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.
The contamination was discovered after sampling by Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Food Safety and Security Program. Follow-up analysis by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the products.
Individuals who purchased Soybean Sprouts distributed by Henry’s Farm should return the product to the place of sale for a full refund. Henry’s Farm can be reached at 1.301.802.2996 or VDACS’ Food Safety and Security Program at 1.804.786.3520.