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Why would hummus not be safe?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I have seen a couple people say this. Why wouldn't it be safe?
post #2 of 32
What I read and was told during my first pregnancy was that hummus, like unpasteurized cheese (Brie, etc.), can harbor listeriosis bacteria, which isn't a problem for your average healthy individual, but can make the elderly and those with compromised immune systems pretty sick, and can cause miscarriage during pregnancy.

If I remember correctly, it isn't common for listeriosis to be present in either hummus or soft cheese, but when there's an outbreak, it can take a little while for a recall to be made, and listeriosis is particularly problematic because keeping food in the frig or heating it through doesn't kill the bacteria.

ETA: I never have been able to find out, though, if fresh homemade hummus is ok for a certain length of time, or dry hummus mixes. The two recalls I remember seeing in the grocery store over the past, oh, decade both involved premade refrigerated hummus.
post #3 of 32
Hmmm...do you have a source on this? I've never heard it before, and I eat premade, refrigerated hummus regularly.

The soft cheese thing is largely a myth (or so I've heard from another mama on this board), b/c all cheese sold in supermarkets in the US are required to be pasteurized. It may be different if it's a restaurant making their own cheese or something. In any event, just check packages on soft cheeses--the ones I've seen are usually pasteurized.
post #4 of 32
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/disea...teriosis_g.htm

There's one, although it doesn't specifically mention hummus. Here's what it does say (in brief) about listeriosis:

How does Listeria get into food?
Listeria monocytogenes is found in soil and water. Vegetables can become contaminated from the soil or from manure used as fertilizer. Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin such as meats and dairy products. The bacterium has been found in a variety of raw foods, such as uncooked meats and vegetables, as well as in processed foods that become contaminated after processing, such as soft cheeses and cold cuts at the deli counter. Unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk may contain the bacterium. Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in certain ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after cooking but before packaging.

Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above:

-Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
*
-Avoid getting fluid from hot dog packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.

-Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela, unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk.
*
-Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pâtés and meat spreads may be eaten.
*
-Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna or mackerel, is most often labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky." The fish is found in the refrigerator section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten.

Me again. I typed hummus + listeriosis into google and came up with a bunch of pdf files detailing outbreaks of listeriosis and hummus recalls. I can link them if you want, but I wasn't sure linking pdf files was ok here? Sometimes people don't like links that aren't straight 'net.

I've never heard of that regulation on cheese. Can I lob the ball back in your court and ask for a source? Stop & Shop regularly carries cheese that isn't pasteurized, to my knowledge. Unless it says pasteurized on the label, I'm hesitant to assume it's pasteurized. I've seen some soft cheeses, such as mozzarella, specifically labeled "pasteurized," and have bought others that are imported from France and have exactly the same labels as the ones I bought when I lived in France, which weren't made from pasteurized milk.
post #5 of 32
Listeria grows really well in moist things like fish and meat and soft cheeses and pates. Some foods are too acidic to support the growth of listeria. Some hummus might not be acidic enough to be hostile to listeria if it became contaminated during processing.

I have to say,though, that I am less afraid of listeria with something of vegetable origin than I am with something of animal origin.

Aged cheeses are ok usually because they have a lower water content. Cheeses like cheddar are too dry to support listeria growth.

I remember hearing about a string of miscarriages that happened a number of years ago related to one batch of contaminated queso blanco. You also quite frequently hear of recalls for listeria-contaminated meat, though I don't know of any associated baby deaths.
post #6 of 32
I buy organic hummus made fresh at our health food store and eat it plentifully and plan to continue to eat it plentifully. If you have any questions about it, then make your own...it wouldn't be any different from eating other left-overs in my opinion. maybe i'm just a risky girl

sarah
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by earthmama369
I've never heard of that regulation on cheese. Can I lob the ball back in your court and ask for a source? Stop & Shop regularly carries cheese that isn't pasteurized, to my knowledge. Unless it says pasteurized on the label, I'm hesitant to assume it's pasteurized. I've seen some soft cheeses, such as mozzarella, specifically labeled "pasteurized," and have bought others that are imported from France and have exactly the same labels as the ones I bought when I lived in France, which weren't made from pasteurized milk.
Shoot. There was a really long thread on this somewhere, and one particular mama had a lot of info on the issue--but for some reason, despite searching, I can't find it. When I initially read the thread, I didn't investigate further, as I myself don't eat soft cheeses. I guess the bottom line is to check labels.

As for the hummus issue: I'm guessing making your own is probably fine (I just wouldn't keep it for ages and ages, but I don't see why keeping it for a few days would be any different than keeping any bean or veggie dish for a few days).
post #8 of 32
Wow, I never knew that hummus could be a problem during pregnancy. I just ate a ton of it today! I usually make my own, but since being pregnant I'm trying to cut down on unnecessary tasks, so I've been buying the store kind.
post #9 of 32
I've never heard of this...I eat hummus pretty frequently, too.
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Shoot. There was a really long thread on this somewhere, and one particular mama had a lot of info on the issue--but for some reason, despite searching, I can't find it. When I initially read the thread, I didn't investigate further, as I myself don't eat soft cheeses. I guess the bottom line is to check labels.


I think it was this thread, post #30. It starts off being about sushi, then morphs into a soft cheese PSA. It had an impact on me.
post #11 of 32
Yup...I think that's the thread. Doing a search on listeria, I also found that SORBET has occasionally caused listeria outbreaks. I also read that your odds of being electrocuted at the computer are greater than your odds of eating food contaminated with listeria. Whether or not that's true...

While I think it's wise to avoid foods that make YOU uncomfortable, I also don't think it's necessary to freak out over every thing you eat (says the woman who personally disinfects the entire kitchen after dh cooks himself fish. : ). Frankly, contamination can happen almost anywhere and with anything--I think practicing good food safety (care in handling raw eggs, for example) is your best bet.

Personally, those bags of pre-washed lettuce--and salad bar lettuce (eek!)--scare me more than hummus or sorbet.
post #12 of 32
The FDA originally recommended pregnant women do not eat soft cheeses at all, which includes feta, brie, etc. Then it did some more research and found that the risk of listeria is only really in unpasteurized soft cheeses. So it issued a new recommendation saying that if the cheese is made from pasteurized milk, it's okay during pregnancy. I don't have the link off hand but it can be found on their website.

One does have to be careful in places like Whole Foods, where there are imported cheeses made from raw milk. Those are obviously out.
post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCVeg
Yup...I think that's the thread. Doing a search on listeria, I also found that SORBET has occasionally caused listeria outbreaks.
Now thats scary!

Chickpeas are good for pregnancy! 141 mcg Folic Acid per 1/2 cup. (Sorry if you guys knew that, I just learned)

I've never tried hummus, is it good? I've only had chickpeas with olive oil, lemon and seasonings. yum.
post #14 of 32
Oh, hummus is awesome. It makes a great dip or sandwich spread, and you can flavor it with a ton of different things. That's why I was so sad when I read about hummus and unpasteurized cheeses when I was pregnant with Q -- my two favorite foods!

I have had fresh homemade hummus while pregnant, although I usually make dh finish it if it's been in the frig for more than a day or two. I think I'm more paranoid about it just because I remember two actual recalls in stores around here, specifically of hummus, for listeriosis, and news reports of elderly people ending up in the hospital, so it seems more like a concrete risk to me.

By the by, roasted chickpeas are awesome, too. Douse them in balsamic vinegar, maybe a little sea salt, and roast them on a flat sheet in the oven until they're golden brown. Soooo yummy!
post #15 of 32
As one of the pp said that Whole Foods imports cheeses that are not pasteurized is simply not true. It is not allowed by law!!!! They can't import ANY chesses from ANYWHWERE that are not pateurized. If you don't belive me , go there, ask to speak to the cheese buyer, not the counter person, and ask. I did when I had a research project on cheeses in culinary school and it is simply a law in the States that unpasteurized cheese can't be sold in a store, restaurant or anywhere LEGALLY.
Oh, and any food can be contaminated with bacteria, listeria is just on of them, but if you want to be sure heat everything up over 180 degrees, eat never anything raw, including hummus and you should be set.

(all info on cheese in this mail are regarding unaged cheeses under 60 days)
post #16 of 32
I made and ate hummus all the time when pregnant. This sounds like overkill in the worry department. Wouldn't folks in the Middle East have figured this out long ago?
post #17 of 32
I haven't heard anything about hummus being a no-no during pregnancy. I think avoiding it if you want and enjoy it is overly cautious.

Also, I just wanted to add that I have a good friend who is a master cheese maker at an artisanal cheese company in Northern California. (Cypress Grove, anyone heard of them? Yum...). Anyhow, he said that they have to follow ridiculously strict guidelines for pasteurization. For instance, the heat must stay at a specific temperature for a specific amount of time, with NO exceptions. They are required by law to keep a log of the process, and can basically be shut down if there is a listeria outbreak and it is traced back to faulty pasteurization on their part, etc. He said that these standards are upheld each and every time, and if something goes wrong, even on a micro-level, then the batch is discarded. Listeria is rare, but cheese makers are well-informed. Eating soft cheeses (or hummus, sushi, etc.) during pregnancy is a personal choice. However, after hearing this story first-hand from him, I feel relatively confident that I'll be fine about eating goat cheese while pregnant. Hope this helps!
post #18 of 32
Found the regulation regarding pasteurized cheese (as of last year):

http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2004/504_milk.html

Raw Milk Cheeses
The FDA allows the manufacture and interstate sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged for at least 60 days at a temperature not less than 35 degrees Fahrenheit. "However, recent research calls into question the effectiveness of 60-day aging as a means of pathogen reduction," says Sheehan.
The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is currently examining the safety of raw milk cheeses and plans to develop a risk profile for these cheeses. This information will help FDA risk managers make future decisions regarding the regulation of these products to protect public health.


That's the kind of cheese I've seen for sale -- French brie, for example, aged 60-90 days. Man, I need to get a life. This is what happens when I'm inside all day with a sick, cranky, teething baby -- I sit in front of the computer ALL DAY while she nurses. Oy.
post #19 of 32
Off topic: s a former cheese buyer/ assistant dairy manager of a natural foods co-op (Whole Foods type market):

Some specialty shops do sell some raw milk aged cheese (that conforms to the FDA regulations, which are fairly strict). I'm fairly sure it's usually labelled as such. That said, unless you've been eating raw cheese regularly, you probably wouldn't *want* to eat it, just cause raw cheese has a different flavor/ smell/ taste than pastuerized cheese. It doesn't smell like "normal" cheese, if you know what I mean. (It smells better... but that's a personal opinion!)

Regular grocery stores wouldn't bother selling any raw cheese, because there isn't much of a market for it. I didn't carry any (even though I am personally fond of raw cheese) because it wouldn't have sold. And we had a fairly gourmand clientale.

And most pregnant women (who have a stronger sense of smell) would probably be a little repulsed by raw cheese. I LOVE raw cheese, but when I was pregnant the first time, in my early twenties, and on vacation in France, the earliest hint I had of being pregnant was that I could no longer even stand the smell of raw milk cheese. I had no idea why, until I got my + test a few days later.

Meggles -- I LOVE Cyprus Grove goat cheese!!!!!!!! Oh, yummy! We sold some of their cheeses at my store

Back on topic: I'm eating hummus a lot during this pregnancy -- but I only eat homemade or restaurant hummus, because I'm a hummus snob Store bought just doesn't taste good to me! Especially since my DH makes it so well But I would eat store bought without much fear of contamination, if I thought it tasted good.
post #20 of 32
hummus is one of the best things a pregnant woman can eat IMOJust like anything else homeade, nothing wrong with it. Plenty of protein, calcium, endless variations, ec etc.
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