Deadly listeria outbreak linked to whole peaches, nectarines and plums

A listeria outbreak linked to whole peaches, nectarines and plums has resulted in 10 hospitalizations and one death, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

The California-based HMC Farms on Friday voluntarily recalled the fruit sold between May 1 and November 15, 2022, and between May 1 and November 15, 2023. 

The recall does not include peaches, plums, and nectarines currently being sold in stores.

The affected fruit was sold in two-pound bags branded “HMC Farms” or “Signature Farms” or as individual fruit with a sticker reading “USA-E-U.” Images of the recalled fruit can be viewed here.

Listeria symptoms include muscle aches, fever and tiredness and may begin within two weeks after consuming the contaminated food, the CDC said. They may also occur as early as the same day or as late as 10 weeks after exposure. It is especially harmful to people who are pregnant, 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system.

Consumers who purchased the fruit are told to immediately throw it out or return it to the store. The CDC said refrigerators and surfaces where the recalled fruit touched should be thoroughly cleaned.

Eleven people became sick in states including California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan and Ohio, according to the CDC. One of those people was a pregnant woman who went into preterm labor. Ten people were hospitalized and one person in California died.

A spokesperson for HMC Farms said their hearts go out to everyone who was affected.

“There is nothing more important to us than providing safe, high-quality fruit to consumers. We never want anyone to become ill from eating fresh fruit,” Amy Philpott, a company spokesperson, said. “The company is working tirelessly with the FDA to investigate how the contamination happened.”

The CDC said the actual number of sick people could be higher, and the outbreak could be in other states.

“This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Listeria,” the CDC said. “In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.”

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