Quaker Oats recently issued a recall of its granola bars due to a Listeriosis contamination in one of its main ingredients. The voluntary recall by the company was issued for a small quantity of the Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars, distributed under the brand name ‘Quaker Harvest’.

According to Quaker, which is a small subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc, an ingredient supplier had provided them with sunflower kernels which had suffered contamination at the hands of a Listeria monocytogenes (L mono) infection, with the same substance being found in granola bars. The two types of ‘perfect on-the-go or as an after meal treat’ products by Quaker are the ‘Quinoa Granola Bars – Chocolate Nut Medley’ and the ‘Quinoa Granola Bars – Yogurt, Fruit & Nut’, and all of the current batch of these two types will be recollected. The safety recall, also issued by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), reports there have been no illnesses and therefore an outbreak may have been avoided.

Quaker said in a statement that, “The health and safety of our consumers is our top priority. As such, out of an abundance of caution the Quaker Oats Company is issuing a voluntary recall of a small quantity of Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars after an ingredient supplier was found to have distributed sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes (L mono).

Sunflower kernels are the gray-white colored edible parts found inside the black outer coat of the sunflower seeds. The sunflower kernels are enriched with hundreds of edible oils and are used in various granola bar recipes for their nutritious value. The nutty and crunchy kernels are believed to be jam-packed with polyunsaturated fatty acids i.e., Omega-3s. However, in this case, the place where the sunflower seeds were grown may have undergone contamination with the Listeriosis causing bacteria. Poor and unhygienic handling of the kernels, which were subsequently used to make the bars, had the potential to cause a disease in consumers.

Moving on, Quaker claims to have announced the recall itself as a precautionary step to protect public health. It also proclaims quite adamantly that a vast majority of the company’s products involved in the contamination were withdrawn from ever reaching the grocery shelves, as a result of their quick action. However, a few still escaped from their clutches and were distributed nationwide and in Canada.

People who regularly eat the Quaker bars in question need to be extra careful, since the contamination is such that Listeria monocytogenes may not visibly seem spoiled but it can nevertheless infect the consumer. Although the recall was originally announced by the production company, the FDA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are now conducting independent food safety investigations, as it is possible that other products from the same manufacturer might be infected. Until further revelations, the FDA and CFIA will not issue any public notices. The agencies are also constantly monitoring Quaker to see whether the company is properly removing the contaminated products from the marketplace or not.

In light of these developments, the safest option for regular Quaker granola bars consumers would be to steer clear of the products mentioned above. For further safety, the 6.1 ounce boxes of the Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars should be avoided for now. This specifically goes for products with the UPC code stating 30000 32241 and a ‘Best Before’ date of ‘10/16/2016 to 10/17/2016’ on the Chocolate Nut Medley bars, and a UPC code of 30000 32243 and an expiry date of ‘10/10/2016 to 10/11/2016’ for the Yogurt, Fruit & Nut bars.

However, it should be kept in mind that all other Quaker products have been deemed safe for consumption by the company and Quaker claims to be working very closely with the FDA to ensure consumer safety. The safety recall also asks any customers who have already bought the product to return it to their retailer for a full refund or to dispose it of properly. If the bars have been consumed by the customer, then he or she should visit a physician as soon as possible.

Listeria monocytogenes (L mono) is a bacterial organism which can cause a fatal form of ‘food poisoning’, called Listeriosis. Since the bacterium is ‘invasive’, it can spread from the intestine to other parts of the body and as a result weaken the immune system of the infected person. The bacterium L mono can be naturally found in food sources such as fruits, vegetables and seeds near or around soil, plants and sewage. It is transferred to humans through unhygienic handling of the food sources. People often confuse Listeriosis with normal food poisoning, since the symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, fever, fatigue, muscle aches, headache and gastrointestinal complications. The incubation period of the serious form of Listeriosis is usually 21 days, but sometimes the disease even takes up to 70 days to manifest after the initial exposure.

Listeriosis is a serious health threat to the US population, with children, elderly, pregnant women and newborns at a greater risk of contracting this infection. In pregnant women, Listeriosis can lead to serious complications which can adversely affect the fetus. These may result in premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth or even death of both mother and child.