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First Recall of 2019; Listeria Tainted Sunflower Butter

Posted in Listeria,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on January 2, 2019

2019 came in with its first recall on the 2nd day although the report dates back to December 18, 2018. We kicked it off with the Listeria Tainted Sunflower Butter recall.

Oskri Organics Corporation of Lake Mills, WI is recalling Oskri Organic Sunflower Butter Lot # 099, Oskri Tahini Butter LOT # 193 and Thrive Sunflower Butter LOT # 233, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

2 Jars of Oskri Organic Sunflower Butter LOT #099 UPC 666016401295 was distributed in Ohio. The product reached consumers through retail stores.

Oskri Tahini Butter LOT # 193 UPC 666016401301 was distributed in CA, AZ, GA, CT, IN, TX, FL, ID, SC, NH. The product reached consumers through retail stores, or direct delivery from internet sales. Thrive Sunflower Butter LOT # 233 UPC 671635704825 was distributed in Indiana. The product reached consumers through direct delivery from internet sales.

To identify the contaminated product, it is in plastic 16oz jars, the LOT Number will be either on the top or bottom of the jar near the expiration date. Oskri Organic Sunflower Butter LOT #099 is greenish-khaki color (expiration 10-2019). Oskri Tahini Butter LOT #193 is a light tan color (expiration 1-2020), the Thrive Sunflower Butter LOT #233 is greenish khaki color (expiration 2-2020).

No illnesses have been reported to date.

On 12/18/18 we were informed by one of our customers that they randomly sent our product in for testing, it came back positive for Listeria monocytogenes. An investigation is still ongoing to find the source of the Listeria monocytogenes.

What is Listeria?

Listeria is caused by bacteria that can grow at cold temperatures, like those inside a refrigerator. Even freezing doesn’t stop it. When it contaminates food, you can’t see, smell, or taste it.

People pick up the infection most often from deli meats that aren’t processed properly or from dairy products made from milk that isn’t pasteurized — in other words, the milk hasn’t been heated to kill germs.

Other common sources of outbreaks are:

  • Cantaloupes
  • Hot dogs
  • Soft cheeses


When you get a listeria infection, the signs typically include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Achy muscles
  • Fever

They could appear a few days after you eat the bad food, or they might take a couple of months to show up. If you have any of those symptoms, contact your doctor.

If the infection spreads to your nervous system, it’s more serious. This severe form, called listeriosis, is fatal for 20% of people who have it. This happens most often with the very young, the very old, and people with weakened immune systems. The signs could be:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Convulsions

How to Treat Listeria

Listeriosis is usually a self-limited illness—which means that a majority of infected individuals will improve without the need for medical care. But for those patients with a high fever, a stool culture and antibiotic-treatment may be justified for otherwise healthy individuals. Although there have been no studies done to determine what drugs or treatment duration is best, ampicillin is generally considered the “preferred agent.” There is no consensus on the best approach for patients who are allergic to penicillins.


Most listeria infections are so mild they may go unnoticed. However, in some cases, a listeria infection can lead to life-threatening complications — including:

  • A generalized blood infection (septicemia)
  • Inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain (meningitis)

Complications of a listeria infection may be most severe for an unborn baby. Early in pregnancy, a listeria infection may lead to miscarriage. Later in pregnancy, a listeria infection may lead to stillbirth, premature birth or a potentially fatal infection in the baby after birth — even if the mother becomes only mildly ill.


To prevent a listeria infection, follow simple food safety guidelines:

  • Keep things clean. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. After cooking, use hot, soapy water to wash the utensils, cutting board and other food preparation surfaces.
  • Scrub raw vegetables. Clean raw vegetables with a scrub brush or vegetable brush under plenty of running water.
  • Cook your food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to make sure your meat, poultry and egg dishes are cooked to a safe temperature.

Precautions for people particularly at risk

If you’re at risk of a listeria infection — you’re pregnant or you have a weak immune system — you may want to be particularly cautious about listeria. Take additional precautions with these types of foods:

  • Soft cheeses and Mexican-style cheeses. Don’t eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue cheese or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco, unless it’s clear from the packaging that the product was made using pasteurized milk.
  • Hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats. Avoid hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats, unless they’re reheated until steaming hot. Keep fluid from hot dog packages away from other foods, utensils and food preparation surfaces. Wash your hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats or deli meats.
  • Meat spreads. Don’t eat refrigerated pates or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pates and meat spreads are acceptable.
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood. Don’t eat refrigerated smoked seafood. Such products may be labeled as nova style, lox, kippered or jerky. One exception is if you’re using these products in a casserole or other cooked dish. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood is acceptable.


If you believe you have become infected with listeria it is always best to contact your health care provider to ensure that you receive proper medical attention. Be prepared to answer questions from your doctor about foods you have recently eaten and always be honest with your answers. One thing I have learned in my many trips to the doctor is that no answer is silly and as long as you are as honest as possible you will receive the best care.

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)