A nationwide stone fruit recall has taken some peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots sold at Trader Joe’s, Hannaford, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club off the shelves.
The fruits were part of a voluntary recall because of potential contamination with listeria monocytogenes but have not been linked to any illnesses, according to a release from Wawona Packing Co., the California business that packaged the fruit for distribution around the country.
The recalled fruits were packed and distributed between June 1 and July 12 and included the label “Sweet 2 Eat.”
Eric Blom, a Hannaford spokesman, confirmed that the recalled fruits were sold at Portland-area Hannaford stores and have since been removed from the shelves. Signs have been posted at the stores’ produce and checkout areas, as well as online, alerting customers to the recall.
Catherine Eliot, 33, a Portland resident, said she had been regularly buying peaches at the Forest Avenue Hannaford supermarket, but hasn’t experienced signs of illness.
“We can’t afford to buy everything at the farmers market,” she said Tuesday, adding that she still intends to buy peaches when they are restocked. “It’s unavoidable.”
Another shopper at the Forest Avenue Hannaford, Ben Allen, said he had some nectarines at home and was planning on checking the labels.
“We did eat one and it was fine,” said Allen, 42. “In fact, the kids loved it.”
Listeria bacteria can cause serious infections in children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Short-term symptoms include high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The infection can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths occur in the United States each year from listeriosis.
Wawona Packing does not know exactly what stores carried the fruits because they were packaged and shipped to both retailers and wholesalers through distribution centers, said Amy Philpott, the company’s spokeswoman. Wawona Packing issued the recall because it doesn’t know if it can identify all of the companies that bought fruit from its wholesalers.
Philpott said she did not have a list of distribution centers immediately available, nor the amount of fruit that was recalled. She said consumers should look for fruits with the label “Sweet 2 Eat.”
Customers have been asked to throw potentially infected produce away or return the fruit for a refund.
There have been no reports of people becoming ill from eating the stone fruit, so-named because of their large pits. As of Tuesday afternoon, officials with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency had not received any calls of potential illnesses linked to the fruit.
Brian Nick, a Sam’s Club spokesman, said the three Maine Sam’s Clubs – in Augusta, Scarborough and Bangor – carried the fruits, which have been removed from stores.
Nick said Sam’s Club, the membership-only retail and grocery store owned by Wal-Mart, has sent out email alerts or called members who purchased Wawona fruits to alert them to the recall.
Alison Mochizuki, a spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s, said the store on Marginal Way in Portland had removed all of the recalled fruit and put up signs near the cash registers and produce aisles, alerting customers.
BJ’s Wholesale Club also sold the “Sweet 2 Eat” stone fruit, but a spokeswoman for the membership-only retail store could not confirm Tuesday if either of the two Maine stores had carried the recalled produce.
Traces of listeria monocytogenes were first detected on Wawona produce in Australia, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test for the bacteria, according to a Wawona statement on the testing results.
The FDA found three pieces of fruit that tested positive, but additional tests came back negative and all fruit packed after July 12 was found safe to eat. The facility was shut down, sanitized, then retested. All tests for listeria performed after the sanitation were negative, the FDA said in a statement.
Consumers with questions should contact Wawona Packing Co. at (888) 232-9912 or go to the company’s website, http://www.wawonapacking.com, for the lot codes, labels and pictures to identify the recalled fruit.
Chelsea Diana can be contacted at 791-6337 or at: