14 August 2023
Organic green kiwifruit from New Zealand and repacked in the United States is subject to a voluntary recall in the US because of detection of Listeria on the fruit by local authorities.
The product subject to the voluntary recall was shipped between 14 June and 7 July, repacked locally and sold at retail locations in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
No one has contracted the disease listeriosis from this consignment to date.
Listeria is a common bacteria in the environment and it can be spread through its association with windborne dust, so its presence on fruit such as kiwifruit is not unexpected.
Graham Fletcher at Plant and Food Research recently carried out a study (final report 2021) on behalf of the Centre and Zespri to see if Listeria could grow on kiwifruit. He found that although it can survive for a time, it will not grow. Unlike the US which has zero tolerance to Listeria, most countries NZ exports to take a risk-based approach and will accept that a certain level of Listeria on product - up to 100CFU/g (number of Listeria bacteria per gram of product) - does not present a risk to consumers.
Normally, consumers don’t eat the skin so the risk of becoming sick is “vanishingly small”, according to the Centre's Chief Scientist, Distinguished Professor Phil Bremer, University of Otago.