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Peaches, necterines, plums among nationwide recall for listeria

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Stone fruits, including peaches, plums and nectarines are the subjects of local and nationwide recalls over possible exposure to listeria.

Wawona Packing Company, based in Cutler, California, announced the initial voluntary recall on 19 July. They shipped the foods to wholesalers and retail outlets around the nation.

Whole peaches and nectarines (both white and yellow) are affected by the recall, as are plums and pluots packaged between 1 June and 12 July, 2014.

"We are aware of no illnesses related to the consumption of these products. By taking the precautionary step of recalling product, we will minimize even the slightest risk to public health, and that is our priority," Brent Smittcamp, President of Wawona Packing Company, said.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium which can cause serious reactions among those infected with the disease. Symptoms can include headache, fever, nausea and abdominal problems. The microorganism can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women. The disease can become dangerous, or even fatal, in children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Because the fruits may have been distributed anywhere in the country, directors issued a nationwide recall of the fruit. The packing company has contacted their business customers, advising them to remove the products from store shelves.

The recall was triggered when internal testing showed stone fruits sold by the company may have been infected by L. monocytogenes. The bacteria were discovered on a single peach and a pair of nectarines subjected to examination.

Listeria has an incubation period of between a few weeks and a couple months, so anyone exposed to the bacteria may not yet be exhibiting symptoms.

"At this time, it is unclear exactly where along the supply chain the fruit was infected with Listeria monocytogenes. The company shut down the implicated packing lines, retrofitted equipment, sanitized the facility and retested," company officials wrote [pdf] in a document on their website detailing the recall.

Trader Joe's, Costco, and Walmart have all posted notices about the recall on their websites. Returns of the uneaten product will be accepted at Trader Joe's, the food chain announced. Wawona Packing Company advices anyone who may have affected fruits in their homes to immediately throw the food away.

Roughly 1,600 people are diagnosed with, and 260 people die from, Listeria each year, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. In 20011, the bacteria, carried in contaminated cantaloupe, sickened 147 people and killed more than 30.

Consumers wanting to know if they may have purchased recalled fruits can consult photographs and lists of affected products at Wawonapacking.com, or call 888-232-9912.

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