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Hundreds of ready-to-eat foods are recalled over possible listeria contamination

A sign for the Food and Drug Administration is seen outside of the headquarters in White Oak, Md., on July 20, 2020. The FDA announced a recall of hundreds of ready-to-eat food products.
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
A sign for the Food and Drug Administration is seen outside of the headquarters in White Oak, Md., on July 20, 2020. The FDA announced a recall of hundreds of ready-to-eat food products.

More than 400 food products — including ready-to-eat sandwiches, salads, yogurts and wraps — were recalled due to possible listeria contamination, the Food and Drug Administration announced Friday.

The recall by Baltimore-based Fresh Ideation Food Group affects products sold from Jan. 24 to Jan. 30 in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. As of Friday, no illnesses had been reported, according to the company's announcement.

"The recall was initiated after the company's environmental samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes," the announcement says.

The products are sold under dozens of different brand names, but all recalled products say Fresh Creative Cuisine on the bottom of the label and have a "fresh through" or "sell through" date from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6.

If you purchased any of the affected products, which you can find here, you should contact the company at 855-969-3338.

Consuming listeria-contaminated food can cause serious infection with symptoms including fever, headache, stiffness, nausea and diarrhea as well as miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant people. Symptoms usually appear one to four weeks after eating listeria-contaminated food, but they can appear sooner or later, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pregnant women, newborns, adults over 65 and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to get seriously ill, according to the CDC.

Ready-to-eat food products such as deli meat and cheese are particularly susceptible to listeria and other bacteria. If food isn't kept at the right temperature throughout distribution and storage, is handled improperly or wasn't cooked to the right temperature in the first place, the bacteria can multiply — including while refrigerated.

The extra risk with ready-to-eat food is that "people are not going to take a kill step," like cooking, which would kill dangerous bacteria, says Darin Detwiler, a professor of food policy at Northeastern University.

Detwiler says social media has "played a big role in terms of consumers knowing a lot more about food safety," citing recent high-profile food safety issues with products recommended and then warned against by influencers.

"Consumer demand is forcing companies to make some changes, and it's forcing policymakers to support new policies" that make our food supply safer, he says.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kaitlyn Radde