Pinnacle Foods has reportedly began a voluntary recall of Aunt Jemima frozen food packages, including waffles, pancakes, and French Toast slices, in relation to the possibility of them being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The organism thrives in cold temperatures and is known to cause serious and even fatal infections in people with weakened immune systems. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1,600 people are infected with Listeria each year.

Precautionary measures

The New Jersey company, Pinnacle Foods Inc., announced on Friday that the company was pulling 18 of their products—excluding the brand's syrup and dry mixes—from their US and Mexican stores.

The release said that all "Best By" dates of Aunt Jemima frozen pancakes, frozen waffles, and frozen French toast slices "have the potential to be contaminated" with the bacteria. The company's testing indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes within its plant environment, and it is currently working together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the voluntary recall.

Listeria does not work like any other common food poisoning. Foods contaminated with the bacteria do not usually look or smell bad, and it can take anywhere from one to four weeks before symptoms develop. Once consumed, Listeria can cause serious illnesses, especially in young children and the elderly. Healthy individuals may undergo the known short-term symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, persistent fever, severe headaches, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

However, the same Listeriosis infections can do serious damages to a newborn's health and may cause miscarriages.

Full refund from stores

All distributors and retailers of Aunt Jemima frozen food packages are currently being notified of the possible contamination, as the products are being removed from store shelves. Consumers who have purchased the products are advised not to consume them, with the option of getting a full refund if the items are returned to the place of purchase.

The complete list of recalled products can be found on the FDA website and in the released document from Pinnacle Foods Inc.'s website. Among these products are Aunt Jemima low fat pancakes and waffles, oatmeal pancakes, and its Lil Griddlers Blueberry. Pinnacle Foods has dedicated a phone line to address consumer questions and concerns at 1-888-229-7646.