Enoki Mushrooms Were The Most Recalled Food Of 2022

Enoki mushrooms are having a pretty rough year on the food recall front, but growers can take a little solace that they have not been alone. Listeria has run rampant across the food industry over the past few years, hitting everything from cured meat to salad greens and Vidalia onions. Listeria is a bacterial illness that the Mayo Clinic states can be found in the soil on vegetables, in unpasteurized dairy, and in processed products like deli meats. While most infections are mild, Listeria can cause nausea, fever, and diarrhea, with some vulnerable groups even at risk of dying. These recalls are about more than just a potential upset stomach.

While you might chalk up the level of recent recalls to bad luck or paranoia, the fact is food recalls have become increasingly common over the last decade. Time reports that before the pandemic, recalls of meat and poultry rose dramatically, with an 83% increase over the five years before 2018. NPR states that recalls and food infections dropped during the pandemic, but that data was likely impacted by the disruptions of COVID-19 and people avoiding hospitals. Now the string of high-profile recalls in 2022 has brought attention back to increasing problems with food safety; enough so that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently implemented new rules to make food easier to trace. So what has been going on with Enoki mushrooms to make them stand out as the most recalled food in a year full of problems?

Enoki mushrooms have been struggling with Listeria for years

It is perhaps no surprise given that recalls for enoki mushrooms have tied them to Listeria, but at a higher rate than any other product. Food Poisoning Bulletin states enoki mushrooms suffered 11 recalls in 2022 alone. This is following a 2020 Listeria outbreak that killed four people. Worse yet, Consumer Reports states that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is tracing a completely new, although now small-scale, outbreak of Listeria among enoki mushrooms that have not led to a recall. No other category of products has had anywhere close to the number of recalls mushrooms have had this year, even before the most recent cases that have brought the total recalls of enoki mushrooms over the past two years to 20.

What is it about mushrooms that makes them so sensitive to Listeria? Penn State explains that the particles that mushrooms grow in, specifically the manure used to grow them, are fertile grounds for bacteria like Listeria. The disease can also survive in packing areas, soil, and on carrying equipment, making it easy to pass on to consumers when strict sanitation procedures are not followed. It's also why you should clean your mushrooms at home, even if you don't have a recall to worry about. Hopefully, the FDA's new rules and increased vigilance from producers will slow down the recalls because mushrooms are a fantastically versatile staple in many cuisines and losing out on them is a real shame.