Last week, several grocery store chains, like Costco, Kroger, and Trader Joe's, recalled thousands of pounds of frozen fruits and vegetables that may be contaminated with listeria. This week, Quaker Oats announced its own recall. The listeria bacteria can be deadly to those exposed, and it is especially dangerous for the young, old, or pregnant because of their weakened immune systems. Unfortunately, the foods that were recalled (granola bars and frozen foods) are favorites among families because of their convenience. So what are the effects of listeria on kids?
Last week's outbreak has been very difficult to stabilize because it affected so many regions, stores, and types of foods. It recalled more than 350 products sold in the U.S. and Canada under 42 different brands. Frozen green beans, broccoli, peas, and blueberries were just a few of the culprits. Quaker's recall is much easier to track, but just as dangerous to kids.
For anyone who consumes food contaminated with listeria, there is the risk of contracting the serious and life-threatening condition called listeriosis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, listeriosis is when the listeria infection spreads beyond one's gastrointestinal track to the bloodstream and to other organs. At that point, it becomes increasingly difficult to fight. Though "listeria hysteria" has been making headlines lately, recalls are not to be taken lightly, especially when it comes to young children. According to the CDC, the bacteria is deadly for one in five people.
If kids eat food that has been infected with listeria, it may take up to three days for them to show any symptoms. Some of the most common signs are fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. If your children are showing any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is check your food against the the FDA's recall list and seek medical attention. This recent listeria outbreak originated at a CRF distribution facility in Washington, according to NPR. If any of your food's UPC or best-buy dates match, you should dispose of the food immediately either by returning it to your grocery store for a refund or by simply throwing it away.
Since kids generally have weaker immune systems, parents should seek tests for listeria infection if kids have consumed affected food or should seek treatment immediately should kids start showing symptoms. Untreated listeria can migrate to a child's nervous system, which leads to stiff neck, headaches, confusion, convulsions, and vertigo. Children who exhibit these symptoms need immediate attention.
In most cases, doctors are able to contain the infection and treat it with strong antibiotics. Parents shouldn't hesitate to visit their doctor even if their child isn't showing symptoms.