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Mushrooms in Hawai‘i recalled for possible contamination

LIHU‘E — A Taiwan-based produce company has announced a voluntary recall of enoki mushrooms sold in Hawai‘i due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, a disease-causing bacterium.

The state Department of Health first began alterting residents of the recall Monday afternoon after a routine sampling by the department’s Laboratory Preparedness and Response Branch revealed presence of the pathogen on the mushrooms. As of Tuesday afternoon, no illnesses have been reported.

“Most people don’t really associate listeria with mushrooms,” said Lori Nagatoshi, program manager for the department’s Food and Drug Branch. “It’s more for deli meats and other things, but not necessarily enoki mushrooms. So that’s the reason why our department has these routine sampling programs.”

The enoki mushrooms — produced by Changua County Mushrooms Productions Cooperative and distributed by Jan Fruits Inc. — are sold in a 7.05 ounce clear plastic package with “Premium” written in green text. The packaging also contains two QR scan codes and UPC 8 51084 00835 8 on the back side. The package has no lot code or dates.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating what may have caused the potential contamination.

The state Department of Health urges anyone who’s purchased the product to throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

The department also advises anyone who’s consumed the product to watch for symptoms, such as stomach cramps, diarrhea,
vomiting, nausea and fever, as these may be indicative of listeriosis. If symptoms occur, the department advises individuals to contact their health provider.

Listeriosis is an invasive infection caused by eating listeria-contaminated foods.

“It is life threatening for those who are pregnant or immunocompromised, or for young children,” Nagatoshi said.

A person with listeriosis typically has fever and muscle aches, and can also have a bloodstream infection or meningitis, according to the department. Symptoms usually start within several days, although people can sometimes develop listeriosis up to two months after eating contaminated food. Symptoms often start with diarrhea.

This is not the first known case of possible listeria contamination from the producer and manufacturer.

In February 2022, distributor Jan Fruits Inc. initiated a voluntary recall of enoki mushrooms from the same manufacturer for potential listeria contamination after routine sampling in Hawai‘i found the product contained the pathogen. The recalled mushrooms had been sent to wholesalers for further distribution to retail stores in California and Hawai‘i.

Jan Fruits Inc. initiated another voluntary recall of the mushrooms in March 2022, after the California Department of Public Health again found the product contained listeria.

While not from the same company, the first known listeria outbreak in the U.S. linked to enoki mushrooms occurred in 2020. This outbreak resulted in 31 hospitalizations and four deaths — including one person in Hawai‘i — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To protect against potential contamination, the state Department of Health and CDC recommend a set of precautions when using enoki mushrooms: Thoroughly cook the mushrooms before serving or consuming them; do not serve or consume them raw, use them as garnish raw or add them on top of soup dishes raw before serving; keep raw mushrooms separate from foods that won’t be cooked; and wash hands after handling raw mushrooms.

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Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-245-0427 or jhealy@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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