Listeria Risk Prompts 2nd Chang Farm Sprout Recall Since June

Chang Farm of River Road in Whatley, Massachusetts, is issuing a voluntary recall of its Soy Bean Sprouts produced with the specific sell-by date of July 17, 2009 because of the possible presence of <"">Listeria monocytogenes (L. Monocytogenes) contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced. Sample analysis by the agency confirmed the presence of the pathogen.

Listeriosis, the dangerous, sometimes deadly, bacteria generated by L. monocytogenes, is particularly problematic to the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, those with chronic medical conditions, people with HIV, or those undergoing chemotherapy. In serious cases, the disease spreads to the nervous system, causing headaches, stiff neck, and convulsions. Listeriosis can also cause meningitis and blood poisoning in immune-compromised individuals. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms that include high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea and Listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Pregnant women are about 20 times likelier than others to be infected, with about one-third of all 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 a massive 80 percent.

Listeria monocytogenes is responsible for an estimated 2,500 illnesses in the United States annually, with about 200 in every 1,000 cases resulting in death. Listeriosis can take days, even weeks, to develop and can present in anything from a mild flu-like illness to meningitis and septicemia.

The recalled Chang Farm Soy Sprouts are packaged in 10-pound bags (bulk) and 12-ounce plastic bags (retail), labeled under the Chang Farm Brand as Soy Sprouts and were distributed to retail stores and wholesalers throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. No illnesses have been reported, to date.

All retail stores and wholesalers in possession of the recalled sprouts in this lot in the affected states are advised by the FDA to remove the product from their shelves. The agency is advising consumers to discard the recalled sprouts or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund, to contact their healthcare provider with any illness concerns, and to contact Chang Farm directly with 1-413-665-3341 or 1-413-222-5519 with questions about the warning.

News of Listeria contamination is becoming more prevalent and this is not the first time Chang Farms has had to recall its products in recent months. Late last month we wrote about another Chang Farm-generated recall regarding some of its Bean and Soy Sprouts. At that time, the FDA said the contamination was discovered after a sample was secured at a retail store in New York that tested positive for L. monocytogenes.

Sprouts present a unique food borne contamination challenge in that they can become tainted prior to harvesting, when growing. 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. Because sprouts are often eaten raw with no additional treatment, such as cooking, which eliminates bacteria, washing sprouts does not necessarily remove bacteria because bacteria grow within the sprouts and cannot be washed away.

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