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Clif Bar joins growing list of recalls amid listeria concerns

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MINNESOTA — Some Clif Bar trail mix and energy bars are the latest products to be voluntarily recalled because they contain sunflower kernels that may have been contaminated with listeria, the company said Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars and Kashi Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bars joined the growing list of products containing sunflower seeds or sunflower kernels that have been recalled out of concern over the bacteria.

At least 39 separate recalls have been announced since May 3 by companies that use sunflower kernels, the meat of the sunflower seed, supplied by SunOpta, in products distributed throughout the U.S. These include an array of salads, trail mixes and snack bars. Multiple products are included in each of the recall announcements.

No illnesses have been linked to the potentially contaminated sunflower kernels, according to the company.

Symptoms of listeriosis infection include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal illness, such as diarrhea. It can also lead to meningitis. Pregnant women, newborns, older adults and anyone with a weakened immune system is most at risk for infection. Cervical infections caused by listeriosis in pregnant women may result in stillbirth or spontaneous abortion during the second or third trimesters.

The CDC estimates that 1,600 people a year come down with a listeria illness, and 260 cases are fatal.

SunOpta expanded its initial recall on May 18 and then again Wednesday.

"We issued a press release to further expand our recall to cover the shelf life of roasted sunflower kernel products originating from our Crookston [Minnesota] facility. We expanded the recall because we cannot guarantee the quality of the affected products with absolute certainty, which is always our highest priority," SunOpta's president and CEO, Rik Jacobs, said in a statement.

The company had stopped production of their roasted sunflower kernels at that facility but started again Wednesday.

"Sometimes, it takes time to identify where all the implicated products have gone," said Michael Doyle, director of food safety at the University of Georgia.

For a complete list of recalled items, check the FDA website. Recalled products should not be consumed or sold.