Bacon Bits Recalled for Listeria

Bacon bits are the latest food product to be recalled for <"">listeria contamination.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) just announced that two Patrick Cudahy bacon bit products are being recalled for possible contamination with the listeria monocytogenes bacteria, a dangerous, sometimes deadly, foodborne contaminant.

Patrick Cudahy is recalling two different versions of its 10-pound cases of Applewood Smoked Precooked Bacon toppings:  Golden Crisp and John Morrell.  The Applewood Smoked Precooked Bacon topping products bear the establishment number “EST. 28” within the USDA inspection mark and a printed Julian date of “8318.”  The Applewood Smoked Precooked Bacon bit products were produced on November 13, 2008, and distributed to restaurant and institutional establishments in California, Colorado, Florida, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.  The listeria monocytogenes contamination was discovered through in-house testing by an establishment that received the product.

The listeria bacterium is found in soil, vegetation, raw milk, meat, poultry, cheeses (particularly soft mold-ripened varieties), and salad vegetables.  About 2,500 cases of listeria occur in the United States annually with about 200 in every 1000 cases resulting in death.  Listeria monocytogenes can grow at low temperatures, even in refrigerated environments; thorough cooking of food and milk pasteurization can destroy the Listeria bacteria.  Listeria often invades the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract and, once in the body, can travel through the blood stream.

Listeriosis—the illness caused by the listeria bacteria—symptoms can develop in days or weeks and can vary from a mild flu-like illness to meningitis and septicemia; pregnant women can experience anything from miscarriage, still birth, or birth of an infected child.  Pregnant women are about 20 times likelier than others to be infected, with about one-third of listeriosis cases occurring during pregnancy; the incidence of listeriosis in newborns is 8.6 per 100,000 live births and the perinatal and neonatal mortality rate (stillbirths and early infant deaths) is 80 percent.  Those with compromised immune systems—such as people undergoing chemotherapy treatment or those diagnosed with HIV/AIDs and hepatitis—the very young, and the very old are also at risk.

To help prevent listeria contamination, consumers are generally advised to thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources; keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and ready-to-eat foods; avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk; wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods; wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating; and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible and within their expiration dates.

Patrick Cudahy company Director of Customer Service Mike Reitz can be reached at (414) 744-2000.  “Ask Karen” is the FSIS virtual representative, which is available 24 hours a day at for food safety questions.  The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday; recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

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