A California food company has voluntarily recalled all of its peaches, plums and nectarines in connection with a listeria outbreak that has resulted in one death and 10 hospitalizations since 2018, according to an alert released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Food safety emerges.
The CDC’s food safety warning came three days after the company HMC Farms notified the Food and Drug Administration that it was voluntarily recalling the fruit due to a possible health risk. The recalled fruit was sold nationwide in 2022 and 2023, from May 1 to November 15 each year. The fruit was sold individually and in two-pound bags marked “HMC Farms” or “Signature Farms.”
“Although healthy people may experience only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea,” the company’s recall announcement states, “listeria infection in pregnant women can cause miscarriage and stillbirth.”
In a statement on Monday, an HMC Farms spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts are with those affected by the outbreak. We are working tirelessly with the FDA to investigate how the contamination occurred.”
The first illness in the outbreak occurred in August 2018, according to the CDC. Another person became ill that year; Two more people became ill in 2019; four in 2020; one in 2022; and two in 2023. One person died, although officials did not say when. Ten people were hospitalized.
The sick people lived in seven states: California, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Florida. 73 percent of those affected were 65 years or older. One of the sufferers became ill during her pregnancy and suffered premature labor.
The CDC said it is likely that more people have become sick due to the outbreak and that people in other states may also have been affected because some people are recovering without medical care or are not being tested, authorities said.
Listeria, a bacteria that contaminates many foods, is the third leading cause of death from foodborne illness in the United States. Pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are most likely to develop serious illness after being infected with the bacteria.
Federal investigators are working to “determine whether additional fruits or products made from them may be contaminated,” the CDC food safety alert said.
Meanwhile, authorities have advised people to check their homes for the recalled fruits and either throw them away or return them to the store. The food safety alert included a list of labels that were on the recalled fruits, which were sold individually.
Officials also recommend cleaning places that came into contact with the recalled fruit, including refrigerators, where listeria lives and can easily spread to other foods or surfaces. Freezing does not eliminate or reduce the bacteria.