It seems like lately something has been trying to sneak into consumers' shopping carts with each trip to the grocery store. No, I'm not talking about checkout line impulse buys, but rather listeria, a bacteria that can cause potential fatal listeriosis infections in people who consume contaminated products. There have already been 45 recalls or safety alerts issued for listeria concerns in 2016 alone, according to the Food and Drug Administration website. These recalls have affected several major national grocery chains, including Trader Joe's. So, is it OK to buy Trader Joe's frozen products now?
The last few weeks may not have instilled a lot of confidence on the part of Trader Joe's customers. On May 4, the company issued a recall of Trader Joe's Broccoli Slaw & Kale Salad due to listeria contamination concerns from the sunflower seeds contained in the salads. Just six days later, Trader Joe's issued two recalls: one recall for its Kale & Edamame Salad for possible salmonella contamination and then another over possible listeria contamination of 10 Trader Joe's frozen products. If all these recalls have you a bit skittish about hitting up the freezer case at Trader Joe's, I don't blame you — but the California-based grocery chain has assured its customers that it's safe to shop in stores now.
In a May 13 recall announcement on the Trader Joe's website, the company said: "To date there have been no confirmed reports of illnesses from governmental agencies related to our products." Additionally, in its three most recent recall announcements, the company also stated that all products with possible contamination of listeria or salmonella were immediately pulled from store shelves. Customers can head to the company website for a complete list of recalled Trader Joe's products.
Now what do you do if you bought any of the recalled products from Trader Joe's before they were removed from stores — or worse, ate them? If you've bought any of the recalled products, "please don't eat them," the company's latest recall announcement reads. Consumers are advised to either toss the products or bring them back to a Trader Joe's store for a full refund.
If you think you ate a recalled listeria product, you'll want to be extra vigilant and on the lookout for any listeriosis signs or symptoms. And of course, if you start to develop symptoms or are concerned, see your doctor. USDA public affairs specialist Alexandra Tarrant told Shape magazine that, if you think you've eaten a recalled product, "Let them [your doctor] know you've eaten a recalled product, and tell them what you know about the recall." If your symptoms are particularly bad, head straight to the emergency room — and don't forget to tell the medical staff there that you think you may have eaten contaminated food.
It's been a rough spring for the grocery industry. And we all know that the Trader Joe's freezer case is a veritable treasure trove of finger foods and hors-d'oeuvres perfect for last-minute get-togethers. Ultimately, the decision to shop at Trader Joe's is up to you.