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Illinois foodborne illness lawyersIn the past week, a common ingredient used in Chinese restaurants across America has been recalled after salmonella was detected in samples of the product. On September 23, the brand Shirakiku was recalled by manufacturer Wismettac Asian Food Inc. The product is imported dried fungus, also known as tree ear fungus, black fungus, or cloud-ear fungus due to its appearance. This fungus is an edible mushroom that is commonly used in Chinese cooking in the U.S. Black fungus originated in China, but can also be found in tropical regions such as Hawaii, Nigeria, the Pacific Islands, and more. The reason these mushrooms are so dangerous? Their tendency to absorb contaminants from their environment.

Based in Santa Fe Springs, CA, Wismettac Asian Food Inc. has been asked to recall their product Shirakiku by the California Department of Public Health. The department detected traces of salmonella, the leading cause of food poisoning, in product samples. Though the company is based in California, this product is distributed throughout the U.S., Illinois included. As of September 24, over 40 people had been infected from a spread of ten states. In other words, if you have recently eaten at a Chinese restaurant and gotten sick afterwards, this fungal product may be to blame.

Signs of Salmonella

Depending on their severity, you may not have thought twice about your symptoms. Or in the current health climate, you may have been comparing your symptoms to those of COVID-19. Below are a list of CDC-recognized salmonella symptoms:

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Chicago food poisoning attorneysMany food products are recalled in the U.S. each year because of the risk of food poisoning related to the products. Unfortunately, the recalls often do not occur until after at least several people become sick from eating the food. For instance, Wawona Packing Company recalled packages of peaches in August because of suspected salmonella contamination after 68 confirmed cases and 14 hospitalizations. The peaches are sold in Aldi stores in nine states, including Illinois. Despite efforts to warn the public, some people become sick from eating a contaminated product even after a recall. To protect yourself, you need to know where to find information on food recalls and what to do if you have a recalled product.

How Do I Learn About Food Recalls?

Food recall orders often originate from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which are the government organizations that investigate outbreaks of foodborne illness. Sometimes, the producer will issue a voluntary recall of the product after it learns of possible contamination. National and local media will often report prominent food recalls, and the FDA and CDC can also communicate directly with the public through social media. If you want to be proactive in learning about food recalls, you can sign up for food safety alerts from the FDA and CDC or check their websites, where they post details about recent recalls.

What Should I Do If I Have a Recalled Product?

The recall notice will give instructions on how to identify a recalled product and possible health risks related to the product. If you find a recalled food product at your home, you should:

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Listeria Threat Linked to Pre-Packaged SandwichesListeria outbreaks in the U.S. are rare compared to other forms of food poisoning, but food manufacturers and regulators take the potential of an outbreak seriously. For instance, Lipari Foods recently issued a voluntary recall of some of its pre-packaged sandwiches because they potentially contained listeria monocytogenes. The products included chicken salad and ham and cheese sandwiches under the Premo, Fresh Grab, and Lipari Old Tyme brand names. Lipari Foods distributed the sandwiches to retailers in 15 states, including Illinois. There were no reported illnesses connected to the recalled products as of the announcement of the recall on Oct. 8. A listeria infection, known as listeriosis, can be life-threatening, depending on the patient.

Those Most Vulnerable

Symptoms of listeriosis may appear as soon as a day after eating contaminated food or take weeks to develop. The severity of the symptoms depends on whether the infection has spread beyond the gut – known as invasive listeriosis – and may include:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Stiff neck
  • Loss of balance

Healthy adults rarely develop long-lasting illnesses from listeriosis, but the infection can be more serious for children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Patients with invasive listeriosis often require hospitalization, and about one in five patients die according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

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Frozen Vegetables Causing Listeria OutbreaksListeria is a relatively rare yet potentially fatal form of food poisoning caused by bacteria in food. On average, about one in six people who contract listeria die from the symptoms. Listeria is often associated with foods such as:

  • Raw milk;
  • Soft cheese;
  • Deli meats;
  • Raw hot dogs;
  • Raw spouts; and
  • Smoked seafood.

However, there have been multiple incidents in recent years when listeria has been found in frozen vegetable packages.

Recent Outbreaks

Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods recently recalled its Signature Select Avocado Chunks because of potential listeria contamination. The product was sold in nine different store brands in 15 states, mostly in the western half of the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control previously investigated a listeria outbreak that started in 2013 and forced CRC Frozen Foods to recall all of its organic and frozen vegetables and fruits. Nine people were hospitalized and three of them died, though only one person was believed to have died from listeria. In 2018, nine people in Europe died from a listeria outbreak that was traced to a frozen vegetable brand distributed in 107 countries.

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Posted on in Food Poisoning

Recent Listeria Recalls

Some types of food poisoning are more common than others. For example, you tend to hear more reports of Listeria and Salmonella outbreaks than Campylobacter and Shigellosis. Although you might feel like you hear about Listeria every other week, do not brush it off as unimportant. It is important, and knowing which affected food products to avoid is how you can protect yourself and your family from falling ill with Listeriosis, which can have serious complications if it is not treated correctly. This is especially true for individuals with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and young children.

Keep yourself aware of the latest food recalls by regularly checking recalls.gov. Also take note of the types of foods that tend to be affected by Listeria, like soft cheeses, deli meats, and smoked seafood, and if these foods are a regular part of your household's diet, pay close attention to any recalls of brands that you buy. If you or your child do contract listeria or any other type of food poisoning and suffer complications that lead to financial damages, consider seeking compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim.

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