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Consumer advisory issued over hash browns

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has issued a consumer advisory for certain refrigerated potato products.

Testing conducted by the MDA laboratory discovered a sample of "Simply Potatoes Southwest Style Hash Browns" containing Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

The affected products include the following items with "use by" dates of March 29, 2009 to April 3, 2009:

-- Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns - 20 oz. bag, 20169-22233.

-- Simply Potatoes Southwest Style Hash Browns - 20 oz. bag, 20169-22236.

-- Simply Potatoes Homestyle Slices - 20 oz. bag, 20169-22237.

-- Simply Potatoes, Red Potato Wedges - 20 oz. bag, 20169-22238.

Diners Choice Shredded Hash Browns - 2 lb. bag, 20169-22223.

Farm Fresh Shredded Hash Browns - 16 oz. bag, 20169-22533.

There are no reports of illness associated with consumption of these products.

The potato products at issue are produced by Northern Star Co. The company has issued a voluntary product recall.

Consumers may return the product to the store where it was purchased for a full refund or replacement. Consumer inquiries for Northern Star Co. can be directed to their consumer hotline at 1-800-228-8105.

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially serious disease marked by fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea.

Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis, but it can cause fatal infections in high-risk groups such as infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Listeriosis can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

Northern Star Co. potato products are considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a "not ready to eat" product, meaning that consumers must cook them properly to ensure they are safe to eat.

Proper cooking of these products to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit kills Listeria bacteria. However, MDA believes that with similar "not ready to eat" products, consumers sometimes overlook the cooking instructions and simply heat such products in the microwave.

Any consumers who believe they may have become ill after eating the product should contact their health care provider and the Minnesota Foodborne Illness Hotline toll free number at 1-877-366-3455.