You might want to let go of that Eggo. The Kellogg Company has voluntarily recalled 10,000 cases of Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles because they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria is responsible for fewer food-borne infections than other types, such as salmonella or E. coli, but it can cause serious illness or even death in some people. Those who are at high risk are people age 65 and older and those with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women are vulnerable, too. While they typically don’t become seriously ill themselves, the bacteria can cause miscarriages and birth defects.

Kellogg says it has not received any reports of illness to date.

Listeria has been found in a host of foods most people don’t typically associate with food poisoning, such as cantaloupe, frozen fruit and vegetables, hummus, and ice cream, to name a few. It’s not even the first time waffles have been recalled for possible listeria. In 2009, the Georgia Department of Agriculture found listeria in a sample of Eggo waffles produced at Kellogg’s Atlanta plant, and the company recalled the product. The Food and Drug Administration sent Kellogg a warning letter after the agency inspected the plant in the fall of 2009, and found listeria and noted a number of sanitation violations at the facility.

“We may be hearing more about listeria because more companies are sampling their foods for it as a precautionary measure and recalling the product if it is found,” says Fadi Aramouni, Ph.D., professor of food science at Kansas State University. In fact, in this case, Kellogg found the problem itself during routine testing at its plant in Rossville, Tenn.  

“The recall is a result of tests which identified the potential for contamination and a gap in our sanitation process,” says Kris Charles, a Kellogg Company spokeswoman. “As soon as we learned of a potential concern, we moved quickly to identify any foods that might be impacted and resolve the issue. This includes initiating a recall, halting production on the line in question, conducting a deep sanitary clean of the area and reviewing our cleaning and sanitation protocols with the relevant plant employees."

But waffles are usually toasted and eaten hot. Wouldn’t the heat kill the bacteria? Not necessarily, says Aramouni. “The infective dose of Listeria monocytogenes is very low and a heat treatment may destroy 99.999 percent of a bacterial population, but not 100 percent,” he says. Plus “the physical nature of waffles does not guarantee even heat distribution on the surface because of the grooves.” Listeria can be killed if a food is cooked to at least 165° F. 

What to Do

The Kellogg recall applies only to boxes of 10 Nutri-Grain Eggos that were sold in 25 states (CO, CT, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, VT, WI, WY) with the UPC code 38000 40370 and a “best by” date of November 21, 2017, and November 22, 2017 (you'll find the the date on the side of the package). If you’ve purchased this product, throw the waffles away and contact Kellogg for a refund.

High-risk people should protect themselves against possible listeria infection by avoiding the foods in which the bacteria are most commonly found—cold cuts, hot dogs, and soft cheeses. If you aren’t at high risk and eat these foods, do so within a short period of time, as the bacteria can continue to grow under refrigeration. “Cook frozen vegetables thoroughly,” says Aramouni, “and keep an eye out for recalls."