The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced, this week, a multistate outbreak of listeria with origins traced to a Vietnamese ready-to-eat pork product manufacturer based in Houston, Texas. As such, Long Phung Food Products has issued a massive nationwide recall of its ready-to-eat pork products.
As of the time of this publication, only four people have been hospitalized from eating these products, namely Long Phung anchovy-marinated pork patty rolls. These would have made by dates between May 21 and November 16 and also labeled with the establishment number “EST. 13561.”
While the illness has only affected people in Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has expressed concern that families and some businesses may have not discarded the frozen products listed in the recall. Indeed, the CDC continues to advise consumers and retailers alike should throw away the products or return them to the store where they were purchased.
Fortunately, no deaths have been reported in relation to this outbreak.
If this sounds a bit familiar it might have something to do with the fact that Listeria is actually the third leading cause of food poisoning-related deaths in the United States. It might also be that you have heard of listeria contamination in frozen foods and even packages of hummus over the past few years.
According to the CDC, listeria infection can be very serious, especially for people with weakened immune systems or the elderly or women who are pregnant. Listeria infection symptoms typically appear within the four weeks but can take as long as ten weeks to first show up. These symptoms include diarrhea or gastrointestinal symptoms, which can then be followed by a headache, fever, muscle pain, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, and even convulsions.
The CDC also makes sure to caution that pregnant woman is as much as ten times more likely to get a listeria infection than any other demographic. Unfortunately, the odds are even higher for pregnant women who are Hispanic: they are 24 times more likely to develop a listeria infection.
And on the subject of pregnant women and listeria, the risk also carries over to the baby. Newborns who have listeria can develop blood infections and meningitis and even more serious health problems; some complications that can even be life-threatening. The good news, of course, is that we can treat listeriosis with antibiotics.