Food Politics + Justice Ham Sandwich

Published on September 3rd, 2010 | by Rachel Fox, RD

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380,000 Pounds of Meat Recalled for Possible Listeria

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Ham SandwichAnother food recall has struck our grocery store shelves.  The USDA has recalled “Marketside Grab and Go” sandwiches produced by Zemco Industries.  According to the USDA approximately 380,000 pounds of the deli products is being recalled due to possible contamination with Listeria Monocytogenes.

On August 23, 2010 the USDA recalled the following Marketside Grab and Go sandwiches:

  • Black Forest Ham
  • Hot Ham, Hard Salami, Pepperoni, Sandwich Peppers
  • Virginia Brand Ham, Fully Cooked Bacon, Sandwich Pickles, Sandwich Peppers
  • Angus Roast Beef

The use by dates of these foods range from August 20-September 10, 2010.  Walmart was the only recipient of these deli sandwiches.  For more information on the specifics of the recalled products visit the USDA website.  CNN reports the Listeria was discovered during an inspection in Georgia.  Walmart has encouraged those who purchased the sandwiches to return them for a refund.

About Listeria Contamination

Listeria monocytogenes originates in the intestines of humans and animals, milk, soil and leaf vegetables.  Common foods it grows on are  deli meats, sausages, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized milk products.  The alarming fact about listeria is it thrives at refrigerator temperatures.  The danger zone for all other bacteria is between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Listeria can survive at colder temperatures.

Symptoms of listeria contamination are similar to other food borne illnesses: fever, chill, headache, stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea.  Symptoms could take up to three weeks to surface.  By the time three weeks has passed, it is easy to forget what you’ve eaten for lunch!

Those most at risk for this type of contamination are people with weakened immune systems (ill, elderly, infant) and pregnant women.  Contracting listeria during a pregnancy could lead to complications with pregnancy and miscarriage.

Recalls and the Food System

This recall makes me think about a few things.  Many lower income individuals shop at Walmart for food.  Typically people who are lower income have unforgiving work schedules or multiple children or unfortunate living situations.  What if a low income pregnant mother, busy with two jobs supporting her family, buys the convenience sandwich? Working as a community dietitian I know this is happening.

Sometimes I feel like our society is designed for situations like this.  I, the dietitian from small town suburbia, know enough about food and nutrition to purchase (more expensive) local, fresh, whole food. I create time in my day to cook full meals and pack lunches.  My living circumstances allow this.  Why can’t we all have enough time to care about the food we eat? It doesn’t seem fair that we all don’t have equal access to (and education about) healthy food.

Your thoughts?

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons user accidental hedonist

Sources: USDA & USDA & CNN

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About the Author

Rachel is a Registered Dietitian and food and nutrition enthusiast from southeast Michigan. She has her Bachelor's in Dietetics from Central Michigan University and completed her dietetic internship at Michigan State University. Rachel aspires to get a Master's of Public Health in the near future. Her passions include cooking, baking, and even grocery shopping. She supports local food, slow food, and good food! Rachel's spare time is devoted to attending local concerts and festivals, reading and playing tennis.



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