Recall alert: CDC sounds the alarm about Listeria from mushrooms

The CDC issued a food safety alert Tuesday. This came on the heels of a recall issued Monday by Sun Hong Foods, Inc in Korea for enoki mushrooms because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

So far, 36 people in 17 states have been sickened, including six pregnant women two of whom suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth. Four people have died.

Enoki mushrooms are white, with long stems and small caps.

Enoki mushrooms from Sun Hong Foods were sold in 7.05 oz / 200 g clear plastic packaging with a green label.

“Product of Korea” is labeled on the front of the packaging, and “Sun Hong Foods, Inc.” is labeled on the back of the packaging underneath the bar code.

These products can also be identified by the UPC code: 7 426852 625810.

The source of the contamination and any other products linked to the Listeria outbreak are being investigated. Until more is known about the source and distribution of the mushrooms, the CDC says people at higher risk for Listeria infections should avoid eating any enoki mushrooms labeled “Product of Korea”. Those at higher risk include pregnant women, adults ages 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer or on dialysis. The people at high risk of being suspectable to Listeria are the same as those being cautioned to take extra protection against COVID-19. These are the most vulnerable, medically speaking, of the general population.

The CDC recommends you check your refrigerator for enoki mushrooms labeled as “Product of Korea”. If you have them, don’t eat them and throw them out. If you have them, wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where they were stored. If you buy them at a grocery store or order enoki mushrooms in a restaurant, ask if they are from Korea, if it isn’t on a package label. If the restaurant can’t answer, don’t order the dish. As with any other medical alert, if you begin to feel symptoms, consult a health care professional.

Symptoms vary depending on the person and the part of the body affected.

Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

People other than pregnant women: Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.

Symptoms for invasive listeriosis usually start 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria. Some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.

Listeria is a curable virus and fairly easy to avoid when an outbreak is established – avoid the food product, which in this case is enoki mushrooms specifically from Korea. It is a relatively rare occurrence each year with about 1,600 people getting sick from Listeria and about 260 people die. A list of states and the number of cases can be found HERE.

So, heads up, enoki mushroom lovers. Check and make sure yours are not from Korea.