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Vidalia onions sold at Publix recalled over Listeria concerns

The Little Bear brand Vidalia onions were sold between June 22-24 at Publix stores and have "PLU 4159" on the sticker.

TAMPA, Fla. — A brand of Vidalia onions sold at Publix stores across Florida has been recalled due to potential Listeria contamination.

Anyone who purchased Little Bear brand Vidalia sweet onions between June 22-24 should throw them away and can bring their receipt to the place of purchase for a refund, according to a release from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The recalled onions were sold in bulk in the produce section of Publix and are marked with "PLU 4159" on the item's sticker.

In addition to Florida, the recalled items were sold at Publix stores throughout Georgia and Wegman's stores in the Rochester, New York area, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

According to the FDA, the recall comes after internal company testing detected Listeria on a single pack line. No other products grown, packed or sold by the company, A&M Farms, are affected by this recall. 

Anyone with questions about the recalled onions can contact the company’s information desk at 1-912-585-2058 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The health and safety of consumers are our top priorities here at A&M Farms. We are glad that most of the implicated product never reached stores, but we are focused intently on alerting consumers in those areas that did receive the onions," Aries Haygood, co-owner of A&M Farms, said in a statement. 

As of June 30, no illnesses or adverse effects were reported in connection to this recall, though the CDC is investigating a Listeria outbreak among people who live in or traveled to Florida recently. 

The Sarasota ice cream brand Big Olaf Creamery was also linked to a Listeria outbreak on Saturday.

What is Listeria?

Listeria, or Listeriosis, is an infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes organism, according to the FDA.

It can cause serious and sometimes deadly infections in young children, elderly people and others with weakened immune systems, the agency explains. Though most healthy individuals suffer only short-term symptoms like high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant people.

Dr. Jill Roberts, an epidemiologist with USF Health, said pregnant people, the elderly and those with immunocompromised conditions are vulnerable to Listeria.

"Listeria is very much linked to fetal loss," Roberts said. "If you're outside of those particular groups, your risk of Listeria is pretty darn low of being a serious disease. That said, you should be aware to avoid any kinds of contaminated products."

What should you do if you ate the recalled onions?

You should seek medical care and tell your doctor about eating possibly contaminated food if you have a fever or other symptoms of possible Listeria infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you do not experience any symptoms, health experts say you likely don't need tests or treatment, but you can always talk to your medical provider if you're concerned.

Roberts said Listeria outbreaks happen regularly, but the most important takeaway is to avoid the products that health departments are cautioning the public on.

That's including ice cream from Big Olaf Creamery. While more tracing of the products is needed to confirm a definitive link to Listeria, Roberts said it's best to avoid them to be safe.

"You definitely don't want to eat those products until we know for sure," she said.

The CDC says Big Olaf Creamery is voluntarily advising retail locations to stop selling their ice cream products until further notice.

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