Zespri Kiwis Are Being Recalled Due To Listeria Contamination

A voluntary recall has been issued for Zespri brand green kiwis in 14 states for a potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The bacteria was found during a routine sampling by the Kentucky Department for Public Health on July 7, 2023, and David Oppenheimer and Company I LLC — a produce supply chain manager branded as Oppy — was informed on August 3, nearly a month later. The company has worked with Zespri to trace the affected product, connecting it to two New Zealand grower lots. The distribution was immediately stopped, but the investigation by the Food and Drug Administration continues.

The potentially affected kiwis are packaged in one-pound clear plastic clamshell containers. They have been labeled with the UPC code 8 18849 02009 3 and the fruit is stickered with the GTIN bar code 9400 9552. The affected fruit was shipped between June 14th and July 7th and received in 14 U.S. states: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

Zespri fruit in any of the other 36 states is reportedly unaffected, as is any fruit shipped after August 7th with a white sticker that includes a work order number and packed on date. Although no connected illnesses have been reported to the FDA, any consumers with fruit matching the specifications above are urged to throw the kiwis out immediately. Questions can be directed to Oppy via a contact form on its website.

The dangers of a Listeria infection

Listeriosis, a sometimes serious infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, is most often contracted through consuming contaminated food. Symptoms can take one to four weeks to show, although in some cases the Center for Disease Control reports that symptoms can show as early as one day and as late as 70 days after exposure. 

In young, healthy, non-pregnant people, it manifests with symptoms such as headache and stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, fever, muscle aches, and can cause convulsions. In pregnant people, it can manifest as flu-like symptoms and can have devastating effects on the fetus. Infections can potentially result in miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery.

This is the 26th recall to date in 2023 due to possible Listeria contamination, including a Trader Joe's brand recall of tropical frozen fruit in June. Approximately 1,600 people are diagnosed with Listeriosis each year in the U.S., resulting in approximately 260 fatalities. Listeriosis is diagnosed with a bacterial culture and treated with antibiotics. If you have eaten Zespri kiwis in one of the 14 states listed, think you may have been affected with listeria monocytogenes, or are showing any of the symptoms of listeriosis within two months, the CDC recommendation is to seek medical care for a diagnosis.