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Avocados Shipped to Six States Recalled Over Listeria Fears

Food
Avocados Shipped to Six States Recalled Over Listeria Fears

A major California avocado producer issued a voluntary recall of the popular fruit over concerns they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, USA Today reported.

Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.


"We are voluntarily recalling our products and taking every action possible to ensure the safety of consumers who eat our avocados," Henry Avocado President Phil Henry said.

The affected avocados were grown in California and sent to retailers in six states: Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The company is recalling all organic and conventional avocados sent from the facility, which was not in use until January 2019. Mexican-grown avocados distributed by the company are not impacted.

"Consumers who have purchased any recalled avocados are urged not to consume them, but to discard them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund," the company said.

Henry Avocado said that it was contacting the stores where the products were shipped to make sure they were taken off the shelves as soon as possible. However, concerned customers can look for the following labels, the company said:

For conventional products purchased at retail, consumers can identify the recalled products by the "Bravocado" stickers. Henry Avocado organic products do not carry the "Bravocado" label on the sticker. Instead those products are labeled "organic" and include "California" on the sticker. Retailers can identify Henry Avocado organic products by the bar code on the stickers.

Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, a food-borne illness especially dangerous to pregnant women and newborns, people over 65 and people with weakened immune systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It infects around 1,600 every year, and kills around 260.

Listeria can cause diarrhea and fever like many food-borne infections, but it is rarely diagnosed unless it moves beyond the gut and becomes invasive listeriosis, the CDC said. In pregnant women, invasive listeriosis can cause fever, fatigue and muscle aches, but can be very dangerous for the unborn child, leading to stillbirths, miscarriage, premature birth or potentially-deadly illness after birth. For those who are not pregnant, invasive listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headaches, loss of balance, confusion and convulsions. Symptoms usually kick in one to four weeks after exposure.

Last year, millions of pounds of pre-made salads and meals were recalled due to potential Salmonella and Listeria contamination because of a problem at a single processing plant in California.

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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