There’s yet another food recall, and this one is affecting everyone’s favorite oblong green fruit: the avocado.
The Henry Avocado Corporation is voluntarily recalling whole avocados grown in California that were sold in bulk to retail stores in six states because they’re potentially contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, the company announced on March 23.
“Henry Avocado is issuing this voluntary recall out of an abundance of caution due to positive test results on environmental samples taken during a routine government inspection at its California packing facility,” reads the company’s statement.
Henry Avocado started packing in this facility in late January 2019. All avocados from this packing facility are included in the recall.
No illnesses associated with the recall have been reported at this time.
Angela Shaw, PhD, an associate professor of food microbiology and safety at Iowa State University, pointed out that the California-grown avocados from Henry Avocado were only shipped to Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
Shaw, who’s not affiliated with the company, added that Henry Avocado has contacted all the grocery and other retail stores that purchased the affected products.
Listeria is a bacterium that can cause a serious infection called . People usually develop listeriosis after eating contaminated food.
Pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk of getting sick with Listeria infection. It’s rare for other people to become seriously ill.
In , listeriosis is usually a mild illness, with only fever and other flu-like symptoms. However, an infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or a life-threatening infection in the newborn.
In other people, symptoms of listeriosis include:
- muscle aches
- stiff neck
- loss of balance
Symptoms usually start within one to four weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria. However, some people have reported symptoms earlier, or as late as 70 days after exposure.
Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.
Consumers can identify the recalled conventional avocados by the “Bravocado” sticker. The recalled organic products are labeled with “organic” and “California” on the sticker.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has photos of the stickers from the recalled products on its website.
Avocados imported from Mexico and distributed by Henry Avocado aren’t subject to the recall and may continue to be sold and consumed.
Henry Avocado urges consumers who have purchased any recalled avocados to not consume them. Instead, they should discard them or return them to the place they were purchased for a refund.
Shaw said consumers who have traveled to the states covered by the recall and who bought affected avocados should throw them away.
The company said in the statement that they’re fully cooperating with federal and California health officials in the complete recall of the affected avocados.
“We are voluntarily recalling our products and taking every action possible to ensure the safety of consumers who eat our avocados,” Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado, said in a statement.
With food recalls on the rise in recent years, there’s likely to be another one in the near future — which some experts see as a good thing, because that means the country’s food safety system is working.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, “People should have an awareness about food recalls in general, so they reduce their chances of developing a foodborne illness.”
The estimate that each year 48 million people get sick from foodborne illness.
Glatter offered some for how to protect yourself against bacteria and other organisms that cause foodborne illness:
- Choose produce that’s fresh, and not bruised or damaged, which can increase the risk of bacterial contamination.
- Keep pre-cut fruits and vegetables refrigerated or on ice to prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Thoroughly wash raw fruits and vegetables before you eat or cook them.
- To prevent cross contamination, keep fruits and vegetables separated from raw chicken, seafood, and beef — in your shopping cart and bags, in your refrigerator, and on your cutting boards or countertops.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water — or sanitizing hand gels — before handling food to prevent the spread of potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. “Scrub your hands for 15-20 seconds,” said Glatter, “paying special attention to between your fingers and under your fingernails.”