Listeria in Peaches, Food Borne Illnesses in Summer, Oh My

By on July 23, 2014


Just when I bought those gorgeous peaches comes this report that an outbreak in peaches from a particular packer in California has caused a recall for Costco, Walmart, and a number of other retailers.  Should I throw out the peaches on my counter?  Can I wash the listeria off?  Can I peel the peaches and be safe? There’s one fool proof answer.  Bake those peaches into a pie.  Listeria is killed by heat.  Yes!peach

Maybe I could call my grocer and ask where he buys his peaches.  Can I trust his answer?

This is tricky.

What is Listeria and Should I Worry About it?

Listeria is a group of food borne bacteria that is particularly dangerous to pregnant women, newborns, those with a compromised immune system and the elderly.  It can be fatal to people in these categories and should not be treated lightly.  If I am sensible,  I’ll just throw those peaches away.  Damn, I hate that!  I love peaches.

But according to the CDC you can’t really wash it off,  nor peel fruit to get rid of it.  Bye, bye peaches. Unless you’re willing to make a pie, or preserves, or any other method that cooks those peaches.

Tips to Prevent Food Borne Illnesses

•Wash your hands. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after eating and after using the bathroom is key to preventing the spread of germs. If you are outside and there is no bathroom, use bottled water and paper towels. It’s also a good idea to keep moist cleansing wipes on hand.
•Do not mix raw and cooked foods. Once a plate has been used to hold raw meat, poultry or seafood, don’t use it again for anything else until it has been washed well in hot, soapy water. Utensils and cooking surfaces should also be cleaned.

•Marinate in the refrigerator.  Do not leave marinating foods out on the counter. Keep them cold in the refrigerator until they are ready to be cooked. Do not re-use marinade as a sauce. If necessary, keep a portion of the marinade that has not been used on raw meat, fish or poultry separate.

•Cook food well. Use a food thermometer to tell if food has been cooked thoroughly enough to kill any bacteria that may be present. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees F at the thickest part of the meat. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. Any foods that are partially cooked in the microwave should be immediately placed on the grill or in the oven. Re-heated foods should also reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

•Do not leave food out. It’s important to refrigerate or freeze cooked foods within two hours. If the outdoor temperature is above 90 degrees F, food should not be left out for more than one hour.

•Hot foods should stay hot.  Any hot foods should be wrapped well or placed in an insulated container to ensure they stay at or above 140 degrees F

•Cold foods should stay cold. Foods that should be refrigerated should be kept at or below 40 degrees F. Dishes like chicken salad or desserts can be placed on ice or in a container set into a bed of ice. As the ice melts, water should be drained and more ice should be added to ensure food remains cold.

For More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on  foodborne illness.

recipe for a Sky High Peach Pie

Sky High Peach Pie

•5 pounds medium peaches, peeled, pitted, sliced
•2/3 cup sugar
•1/4 cup all purpose flour
•1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
•1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•Vanilla ice cream

Use a pie crust in a red box from the grocery store.  Warm it up.  Then place one part of it in a 9=inch deep dish glass pie plate.

For filling:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine peaches, sugar, flour and spices in large bowl; toss to mix well.

Transfer peaches to crust, mounding in center. Roll out the second dough disk to 13-inch round. Roll up dough on rolling pin and unroll atop peaches. Trim edges of both crusts to 3/4-inch overhang. Fold edges over; press to seal. Crimp edges. Cut 6 slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Place the pie on a cookie sheet so it doesn’t drip into the oven.

Bake pie until crust is golden and juices bubble thickly through slits, covering edges of crust with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool pie 3 hours. Serve with ice cream.

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About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”