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Cook Frozen Vegetables

April 6, 2017: Recall Frozen Peas, possible Listeria contamination…..

Another recall on frozen vegetables? What does this mean? Do I have to cook the peas for my pea salad recipe? It means that the vegetables were contaminated with Listeria bacteria at some point in processing. Does it indicate that all vegetables have been contaminated? No, but Listeria is a serious pathogen and can cause illness.

According to : "Pregnant women are approximately 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis." According to the CDC: "Pregnant women typically experience fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn"34 For the rest of us symptoms can include" headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches."

Listeria has long been associated with raw milk and unpasteurized soft cheeses. It can also be present in ready to eat deli meats and cheeses and most recently frozen vegetables. Listeria is unusual in that it can grow in refrigerated temperatures that would inhibit growth of other bacteria. It can also live in a biofilm layer on surfaces such as drains and processing equipment.

So, what are we to do? The good news is that Listeria is killed by heat, that means you need to cook those peas (or any other frozen vegetable) before adding them to a salad. Heating foods to 155 degrees F will kill the bacteria and render the food safe.

For more information, contact your local Extension office.