What Is Listeria? Eggo Waffles Recalled; Dangerous Foodborne Backteria Can Cause Miscarriage, Death

The Michigan-based Kellogg Company is politely asking customers to leggo their Eggo waffles, but only because they might be contaminated with a particularly nasty foodborne bug.

On Monday, the company announced a large-scale voluntary recall of its Eggo® Nutri-Grain® Whole Wheat Waffles over fears that they could contain Listeria monocytogenes. The recall will affect around 10,000 cases that have been shipped to 25 states across the country, including New York, Virginia, and Georgia. As of yet, the company hasn’t received any reported cases of illness due to the product, and no other Eggo brands are affected.

“The recall is a result of routine tests that the company conducts which identified the potential for contamination,” read the company’s statement on the recall. “As soon as the company learned of a potential concern, it moved quickly to identify any foods that might be impacted and resolve the issue.“

Waffle The Kellogg Co. is issuing a recall of 10,000 cases of its Whole Wheat Waffles over fears they might be contaminated with listeria. Pixabay, Public Domain

Listeriosis, caused by L. monocytogenes, is among the more pernicious of foodborne diseases. Though only 1,600 people become actively sick from listeria annually — out of a total 48 million people sickened by a stomach bug — 260 ultimately die from it, making for a stark death rate. Its symptoms normally include diarrhea, fever, and muscle aches, but the bacteria also frequently makes its way into the bloodstream and even brain, causing sepsis and meningitis, respectively. It can also cause miscarriages in infected pregnant women.

Typically found in soil and water, listeria is a hardy bug that can survive for years in food processing plants and is known to contaminate everything from cheese to hot dogs to vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while cooking and pasteurizing do effectively kill the bacteria, it can survive refrigeration unlike many other foodborne germs.

Thankfully, listeria is really only dangerous to people with already compromised immune systems, such as the very young and old as well as those pregnant. It’s estimated that 90 percent of listeriosis cases happen within these high-risk groups.

As CNN points out, this isn’t the first bout Eggo waffles have had with listeria, with the germ being discovered at a Atlanta plant that produced its buttermilk brand in 2009.

More recently this May, CRF Frozen Foods was forced to recall 42 different brands of nearly 360 non-organic frozen fruits and vegetables due to listeria, after an outbreak hospitalized at least nine people and killed at least one.

The company is asking concerned customers to call its customer service line, 1-800-962-1413, or contact its website.

[Update: An earlier version of this article stated that an earlier outbreak of listeria traced to CRF Frozen Foods killed three people. While three victims of the outbreak did indeed die, the CDC determined that only one death was likely caused by listeria. The article has since been changed to reflect this.]

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