Enoki Mushrooms Are Once Again Being Recalled Over Listeria Concerns

Easily identifiable by their leggy stems and petite caps, cultivated enoki mushrooms are prized in Asian cooking for what MasterClass describes as a "mild, fruity, [and] slightly earthy" flavor and a texture that ranges from crunchy when raw to chewy and almost noodle-like when cooked. Enoki mushrooms were already known for being supportive of good health (via WebMD), even before word got out during the height of the pandemic that they may help ward off or treat COVID-19, per Republic World. And there may be some validity to the claim, as a study published in April of this year in the academic journal, Molecules says the fungi could be useful as an adjunct therapy against the virus.

However, when enoki mushroom prices skyrocketed by 500% toward the end of 2021, according to The Takeout, the issue seemed not to be one of increased demand but rather of decreased supply owing to multiple recalls, all of which involved contamination with the foodborne bacteria, listeria. The first, which occurred in 2020, according to the CDC, was traced to a Korean supplier and has long since been resolved, albeit after causing 31 hospitalizations and four deaths in 17 states. By November 17, 2022, the CDC counted more than 20 recalls of enoki mushrooms owing to listeria concerns

The next day, Consumer Reports recommended consumers stop eating enokis until the outbreak was resolved. Turns out, they had a point, as enoki mushrooms have once again been recalled over listeria concerns.

Listeria contamination threatens enoki mushroom safety once again

On December 13, 2022, Utopia Foods Inc., a New York-based produce distributor, recalled its 200-gram packages of enoki mushrooms after a routine product test revealed contamination with the bacteria, Listeria monocytogenesaccording to an FDA announcement. The mushrooms subject to the recall were imported from China, and distributed throughout the U.S. The packaging for this run of Utopia brand products is shown above, and the mushrooms feature the barcode (898928918610017).

So far, no illnesses have been reported related to the outbreak, but listeriosis, which presents as flu-like symptoms, can take two months to present after exposure, according to the CDC. Listeriosis is a food-borne bacteria that many people will be exposed to over the course of their lifetimes, but only some will be susceptible to developing symptoms. However, this bacteria has the potential to be life-threatening in vulnerable populations, which include pregnant women, unborn and newborn babies, adults over 65, and the immunocompromised. 

Accordingly, don't consume these recalled mushrooms. Instead, return them for a refund to the place of purchase. Any questions or concerns can be referred to Danny Li, Utopia's Vice President of Quality Control, by calling 718-389-8898.

A representative from Li's office told Tasting Table it hasn't yet been established at what point in the supply chain that contamination may have occurred. Pending investigation, they're halting further enoki mushroom imports. To learn more about why enoki mushrooms were the most recalled food of 2022, check out our previous coverage.