Broccoli Listeria Recall: How to Tell Whether Your Broccoli Is Safe to Eat

Anyone with a bag of broccoli sitting in their freezer should check it to make sure it's not one of the bags that were recalled. The Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection announced Wednesday that Listeria monocytogenes were found during a routine sampling of frozen broccoli.

The bag that turned out to be contaminated was a 16 ounce bag from Stop & Shop in South Windsor, Connecticut, and Stop & Shop issued a recall for the product.

"We work hard every day across all of our divisions to ensure public health and safety both by conducting regular inspections and by responding to complaints," said Michelle H. Seagull, consumer protection commissioner.

The bag of broccoli that was contaminated was listed as "private brand," which in most cases means store brand. Private brands are the suppliers for store brand goods. Giant Food, Food Lion, Hannaford, Peapod, Giant Martin's and Stop & Shop are all owned and operated by Ahold Delhaize, a food retailer based in the Netherlands.

Giant Food Stores is also recalling frozen broccoli—as is Martin's—and the affected packages of broccoli have been removed from the stores. Shoppers can check whether their broccoli was affected by looking at the UPC code on the bag. The recalled bags have a best-by date of March 15, 2020, and a UPC code of 068826700926. A UPC code is the universal product number on a product and can be found on the barcode of the bag. Stores are offering a full refund for contaminated products.

The contamination was found during routine screening, but so far, it's unclear whether anyone had actually gotten sick from the broccoli. Listeriosis caused by Listeria monocytogenes can be difficult to diagnose because it frequently presents like the stomach flu does with a fever and diarrhea. It can also sometimes cause headaches, confusion, loss of balance and muscle aches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It can take symptoms anywhere from one to four weeks, and in some cases, up to 70 days, to present after a person is exposed to the germ. Pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and people who are already vulnerable to disease are the most likely to get sick after coming in contact with the illness-causing germ, according to the CDC. It can be treated with antibiotics but is especially dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause complications in the pregnancy, a miscarriage or infant death.

Several frozen broccoli store brands were recalled for possible listeria contamination in the United States. Broccoli is seen in this illustration photo January 29, 2018. Picture taken January 29, 2018. Thomas White/Reuters