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FOR RELEASE: November 15, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

State Health Department Concerned About Louis Rich Foods Recall

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is concerned that some consumers may not have learned of a recent food recall from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which could put them and their family at risk of acquiring listeriosis.

On Nov. 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recalled two turkey ham products produced by Louis Rich, which may have been contaminated with Listeria bacteria. Specific products recalled were:

  • "LOUIS RICH 95% Fat Free Turkey Ham Cured Turkey Thigh Meat" in 8 oz. packages. A date code of "EA NOV 10 P-2310" is marked in the upper right-hand corner of each package.
  • "LOUIS RICH 50% Less Fat Smoked Chopped Turkey Ham Cured Turkey Thigh Meat Chopped and Formed" in 8 oz. packages. A date code of "EA OCT 31T P-2310" is marked on the upper right corner of each package.

These products were distributed nationally to retail establishments and to some U.S. military commissaries.

Consumers (especially high risk individuals) should be aware that Listeria bacteria multiply at refrigeration temperatures and survive at or below freezing. Even if you have properly refrigerated these products or placed in the freezer immediately after purchase, you should still return them to the store where purchased for a full refund.

Although healthy people do not often develop noticeable listeriosis symptoms after eating food containing Listeria, some people are very susceptible to the disease. The highest incidence of listeriosis has been in persons over 60 years old and newborns. One-third of infections occurring during pregnancy may lead to spontaneous abortions or serious illness in newborns. Others most at risk include patients with immune systems compromised by cancer, AIDS, or immunosuppressive medications such as steroids; and patients suffering from cirrhosis, diabetes and ulcerative colitis.

Persons at increased risk for listeriosis, such as pregnant women, the elderly, and those with immunosuppressive conditions can decrease the risk by:

  • Avoiding soft cheese such as Mexican style, feta, Brie, Camembert and blue cheese. Mexican-style cheeses are soft, white, ethnic (Hispanic-Latin American) cheeses such as Queso Blanco and Queso Fresco. There is no need to avoid hard cheese, processed slices, cottage cheese or yogurt.
  • Reheating leftover foods or ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs thoroughly until steaming hot before eating.
  • Although the risk of listeriosis associated with foods from delicatessen counters is relatively low, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons may choose to avoid these foods or to thoroughly reheat cold cuts before eating.

Although most people are at very low risk, following these tips can reduce the risk of listeriosis and other foodborne illnesses:

  • Avoid raw/unpasteurized milk.
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate when shopping, preparing, cooking and storing foods. Otherwise, bacteria in juices from raw meat, poultry or fish might contaminate a cooked food. For instance, transfer cooked meat, poultry or fish to a clean platter -- never to the dish that held the raw food of animal origin.
  • Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
  • Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Thoroughly cook all food of animal origin, including eggs. Cook raw meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, raw poultry to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and raw fish to 160 degrees Fahrenheit or until it is white and flaky. Reheat leftovers thoroughly.
  • Read and follow label instructions to "keep refrigerated" and "use by" a certain date.
  • Keep hot foods hot (at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit). Do not keep them out for longer than two hours at room temperature before eating.
  • Keep cold foods cold (at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Do not keep them out for longer than two hours at room temperature before eating.
  • Divide leftovers into small, shallow covered containers before refrigerating, so that they chill rapidly and evenly.
  • Keep your refrigerator clean and keep the temperature at 34-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

For more facts on Listeria, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health Communicable Disease Division Web site at www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/index.html.

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