Health and Information – Enoki mushrooms are a worldwide concern because several countries report their links to the listeria outbreak. CNN reports that in the United States (US) there have been four people who died and 31 people were treated for enoki mushrooms imported from a South Korean company.
The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Supervision (MDFS) on March 18, 2020 confirmed that there were indeed traces of the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in enoki mushroom products from the two companies.
What is enoki mushroom?
Adapted from the Botany Department of Wisconsin-Madison University, enoki mushrooms or Flammulina velutipes commonly grow on logs from dead trees. Enoki mushrooms grow in cold temperatures, and are sometimes also dubbed as ‘winter mushrooms’.
Enoki mushrooms have a long, thin, white form which is commonly consumed in East Asia. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, 2016 states that chemical compounds contained in enoki mushrooms may have anticancer properties.
Quoted from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), listeria bacteria can generally pollute food that is managed in an unhygienic environment. Listeria can live long in the refrigerator and easily spread to food and other surfaces.
The CDC recommends that surfaces that are frequently touched and food containers be routinely cleaned with warm water and household furniture washing soap.
The CDC also recommends that people not consume enoki mushrooms that are past their expiration periods.
Patients who are exposed to listeria can experience a variety of symptoms ranging from headaches, loss of balance, fever, and muscle aches. In pregnant women, exposure to listeria can cause miscarriage.