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Food Safety Focus (165th Issue, April 2020) – Food Incident Highlight

Enoki Mushrooms and Listeria Monocytogenes

In March, the Centre for Food Safety noted some Enoki mushrooms from Korea, purportedly contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes (LM), had caused illnesses and deaths in the United States and were being recalled.

Consuming LM contaminated food may result in a disease called listeriosis. It may cause symptoms like abdominal pain, fever and headache, predominately found in susceptible populations including infants, the elderly and people with weakened immunity. Of note, listeriosis can also cause miscarriages or stillbirths among pregnant women.

LM can survive and multiply at temperatures as low as 0°C. It is more likely to be present in prolonged refrigerated food, such as cold-smoked salmon. However, LM can be easily destroyed under normal cooking temperatures. The public is advised to cook food that is not intended to be eaten readily all the way through. Raw and cooked food should be stored separately to avoid cross-contamination.