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Reach For The Fries? Apple Slices Recalled For Possible Listeria Contamination

If you've been applauding yourself recently for choosing the apple slices over the french fries for your kid's fast food meal, or an apple-laden prepackaged salad for your own dinner, you might want to hit the pause button.

Ready Pac Foods Inc. is recalling about 300,000 cases of apple slices and pieces, and 300,000 products containing apples sold at fast food chains like McDonald's and Burger King, as well as many national supermarkets around the country. The Use-By dates go up to Aug. 20, and you can check the government's list of product names and UPC codes here and here, on the company's press release.

Ready Pac says the products are being voluntarily recalled because they may have come in contact with equipment contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The bacteria may cause serious or life-threatening foodborne illness, particularly in pregnant women and adults with weak immune systems. No illnesses have been reported, Ready Pac says.

Even though no one has gotten ill, the scope of the recall — 38 states plus the District of Columbia — reminds us just how dependent our food chain is on a handful of companies. According to Yahoo Finance, Ready Pac is one of just four top producers of popular ready-to-eat salads, fruits and vegetables. And they're sold everywhere from Costco to Wawa.

Plus, some of the recalled products don't even bear the Ready Pac name. Recalled products include Snack Pac Apples & Caramel, 4oz, marked with the Hannaford label; Fruit & Walnut Snack, 5.75oz, marked with the McDonald's label; and the Apples, Granola & Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt, 4.3oz, with the Wegmans label.

According to the produce industry trade paper The Packer, Ready Pac recently implemented a new food safety and quality system.

The company says it has "earned an outstanding safety record for over 40 years and has taken immediate precautionary measures to protect public health by issuing this voluntary recall." Customers can call 1-800-800-7822, Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PDT, for a refund on the recalled products.

P.S.: If you're wondering how Listeria stacks up against other bad food illness bugs, Huffington Post has this slideshow to help you compare.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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