The USDA announced Tuesday that ground beef patties distributed to schools had been recalled for contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. According to the USDA recall announcement:
The Maramont Corporation, a Brooklyn, N.Y, firm, is voluntarily recalling approximately 88 pounds of a beef patty product that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.
The following product is subject to recall:
* 2-oz packages of "BROILED BEEF PATTY (MICROWAVE)." The products were individually packaged and delivered from 17.25-pound cases. Each case label bears a lot code of "07352" and product number "2801." Each case label also bears the establishment number "EST. 5370" inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The beef patty products were produced on Dec. 18 and distributed on Dec. 19 to schools in the Jersey City, N.J., area.
It is believed that ingestion of as few as 1,000 cells of Listeria bacteria can result in illness. After ingestion of food contaminated with Listeria, incubation periods for infection are in the range of 3 to 70 days, usually 4 to 21 days.
Five days to three weeks after ingestion, Listeria has access to all body areas and may involve the central nervous system, heart, eyes, or other locations. Fetuses of pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the Listeria bacterium. A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, obtundation or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, listeriosis may mimic a stroke.
Infected pregnant women ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth. The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate is 80%.
Human cases of Listeria are, for the most part, sporadic and treatable. Nonetheless, Listeria remains an important threat to public health, especially among those most susceptible to this disease. With the increase of the numbers of immunocompromised people, the risk multiplies. The fact that Listeria is a disease easily transmitted from mother to fetus through the placenta is worrisome to an expectant mother, especially since pregnant women themselves rarely show outward signs of such a devastating infection.