Kingsburg-based farm linked to Listeria

Eleven cases nationwide tied to tainted peaches, plums and nectarines

(Kenny Goodman)
Darren Fraser
Published November 22, 2023  • 
10:30 am

KINGSBURG – Kingsburg-based HMC Farms is recalling peaches, plums and nectarines that were sold between May 1 and Nov. 15, 2022 and between May 1 and Nov. 15 of this year due to concern that the fruit may be contaminated with Listeria.

The recall affects conventionally grown fruit – no organically grown fruit is being recalled. According to a Nov. 17 advisory from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been 11 cases linked to the fruit. Ten people have been hospitalized and one person in California has died. In addition to California, cases have been reported in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan and Ohio.

The FDA advisory includes fruit sold last year because many people freeze their fruit. However, freezing the fruit does not automatically destroy the Listeria bacteria.

The suspect fruit, sold individually and in 2-pound bags, was distributed nationally under multiple brand names, including HMC Farms and Signature Farms.

MULTISTATE INVESTIGATION

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working with local and state officials, have been investigating Listeria outbreaks for the past several years in multiple states. Samples collected from infected individuals were collected from Aug. 22, 2018 to Aug. 16, 2023, which was the onset date of the last recorded case.

Tests on the samples revealed that infected individuals were 18 times more likely to eat peaches, plums or nectarines.

According to an FDA press release, on Oct. 23, the agency collected samples from bagged peaches at The HMC Group Cold Storage, Inc. in Kingsburg. The samples tested positive for the disease.

LISTERIA MONOCYTOGENES

Listeria is a type of food poisoning that attacks the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms typically appear within two weeks of eating contaminated food but may begin the same day or take as long as 10 weeks to manifest. Mild symptoms may include muscle aches, fever, nausea, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe symptoms include confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.

At risk groups are people 65 and older, young children, individuals with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and newborns. According to the FDA, Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

The one fatality recorded to date was a pregnant individual.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The FDA recommends the following:

  • Obviously, do not eat the products. In addition to being possibly tainted, the fruits are no longer safe to eat because their shelf life has expired.
  • Do not eat frozen fruit. As stated above, freezing fruit does not necessarily kill the bacteria.
  • Any surfaces or storage containers that came into contact with the products must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized to remove the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Anyone experiencing any of the above symptoms should contact a physician immediately.

The FDA says its investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are affected.

Darren Fraser
Reporter