Bento recall bacteria could lead to serious illness

Curtis Hallat
Curtis Hallat
Dr. Francis Pien
Dr. Francis Pien

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The bentos were made at a processing plant in Mapunapuna owned by Warabeya U.S.A. The company wouldn't let us inside its packaging area or talk to us about the recall.

On Wednesday the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Warabeya was pulling about 1,550 pounds of packaged meals because they may be contaminated with a cellular bacteria called listeria.

"You'd think that they'd have some kind of safety check constantly on this stuff, especially something that sits under a heater for half the day," Honolulu resident Curtis Hallat said.

The symptoms of listeriosis included fever, muscle aches and diarrhea. Infectious disease experts say it can lead to other illnesses.

"People that get internal infections can have either serious pneumonia and they can even get abscesses," Dr. Francis Pien said.

The recall includes meals called the Big Bento, Breakfast Scramble Bowl, and the Little Smokies Snack Pack, sold exclusively at Hawaii's 64 7-Eleven stores.

Warabeya made the bentos on June 28 with a best-eaten-by date of June 30.

The USDA said they could have gotten contaminated when they came into contact with the pan of a food scale that tested positive for the bacteria.

"Most people, especially with food poisoning, will get better without treatment. They'll resolve on themselves," Pien said. "It's the ones that get systemic illness, especially the bacteria in the bloodstream, that can get seriously ill."

The USDA classifies the health risk as "high." Pregnant women and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

"It doesn't take a lot of bacteria to get sick from this," Pien said.

So far no illnesses have been reported and the new bentos at 7-Eleven are deemed safe to eat.

"In a hurry it's okay. But probably it's not something I make a habit of," Hallatt said.

If you suspect you've been exposed to the bacteria see your doctor.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved