Outbreak spreads through Reser’s

Reser’s Fine Foods, a Topeka food manufacturer recalled 109,000 cases of refrigerated products and nearly 22,000 pounds of food for a possible listeria contamination. It was detected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency a few days after it was shipped, which proceeded to warn the company and the FDA.

Listera is an organism that can create fatal infections in the young, elderly, and frail, having a fatality rate of about 20 percent, as it can cause meningitis and sepsis. In healthy adults, however, it causes fever, headaches, stiffness, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Pregnant women need to be especially careful, as the infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

Reser’s Fine Foods also sells under the brand names: Miller’s, Reser’s, Stonemill Kitchens, Yum, Dillon, Cross Valley Farms, Target, Block & Barrel, West Creek, Cobblestreet Market, 7-11, Chef’s Choice, Mrs. Giles, Yoder’s, Baja Cafe, Essential Everyday, Dickey’s, Safeway, Orval Kent, King Sooper, Deli Design, Mrs. Weaver’s and Sav A Lot. To identify these products, look at the expiration date. The affected food’s expiration dates range from Oct. 5 to March 17, 2014, with the number 20 as a plant code after the use by date. The majority of the affected food was side dishes, such as macaroni and cheese and chicken salad.

The last time a major listeria outbreak occurred, two Colorado farmers killed 33 people by failing to treat their cantaloupes with an antibiotic. In addition to the 33 fatalities, 147 hospitalizations and one miscarriage were hospitalized across 28 states including Kansas. They were charged and convicted of six federal misdemeanor counts of introducing and delivering adulterated food into interstate commerce. They could face a maximum of six years in prison, one for each case and a fine up to $250,000 for each case. The farmers are currently suing a food based auditing company for not warning them about the dangers of the cleaning method.

At this time there are no current reported illnesses from the listeria. Customers, who have purchased the affected product, can return it at any time to the store it was purchased for a full refund. Customers that believe they are infected should seek medical attention immediately, as it is highly treatable with antibiotics.