Sunday, August 18, 2013


I use a lot of fresh herbs in cooking. Most of them I grow myself (and share with our friends and neighbors). In fact, I have just returned from buying another French tarragon plant. But for some reason, I have a hard time growing cilantro, which I love to use in a number of dishes. That's really too bad, since it is contaminated on a regular basis. We have at least one recall a year in the U.S. As for example, now.

Buurma Farms, Inc. of Willard, Ohio, is voluntarily recalling 465 boxes of cilantro. The Cilantro was sold to distributors in Michigan on August 3, 2013. But some of the product was also shipped to retail stores in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. And who knows what prepared foods it was used in and where these ended up.

Of course, the bacterium that caused the contamination was our common culprit, Listeria monocytogenes. This tiny bacterium is pretty deadly. Beware pregnant women. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. It can also cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, or anyone with a weakened immune system.

On the other hand, some people don't get any symptoms at all, or, may just have short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Lucky you, if that is all you get.

Of course -- and this always annoys me -- the recall states that no illnesses related to this product have been reported so far. Great! Listeriosis has an extremely variable incubation period (time between being exposed and developing symptoms). It can range from 3 to 70 day - some say even 90 days. However, symptoms usually appear within a month.

Do the math. If you bought the contaminated cilantro when it arrived at the store - let's say August 5 or probably, considerably later, and used it immediately, you may not get ill until early September. Maybe even October or November.

Enjoy your cilantro, but you may be wise to cook it lightly first if you are in a high risk group. And avoid fresh salsa when eating out, which I consider one of our riskiest foods (see my post for March 29, 2012 - "Salsa is one of the Riskiest Foods".

To your good health,


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