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Why Europe doesn't see as many Enoki mushroom recalls as North America

The Enoki mushroom market has been experiencing growth, driven by their unique taste as well as increased consumer interest in healthy products. Enoki mushrooms are high in nutrients and low in calories, making them a popular vegetable for health-conscious consumers. In addition, they serve as a meat replacement due to their umami flavor and texture.

Asia is the world's largest grower and consumer of Enoki mushrooms. In countries like China and Korea, it is a mass product that has a relatively low cost price. The supply chain is well established, and Enokis are an integral part of traditional cuisines. Europe and North America on the other hand are viewed as emerging markets. Consumption as well as domestic production are picking up. However, it is still a relatively expensive product to grow and as a result, both regions still import the majority of Enokis from Asia.

Enoki mushrooms grown in bottles.

North America seems to be often plagued with Enoki Mushroom recalls as a result of contamination with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. In Europe on the other hand, Enoki mushroom recalls are more limited. What is causing a recall and why does North America seem to be more susceptible? The development of Listeria could be caused by the way Enoki mushrooms are grown. Typically, they grow in bottles on a substrate of hardwood sawdust mixed with water. The Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can be found in moist environments and has the ability to grow under refrigeration. "For this reason, Enokis undergo very strict quality control tests before we supply our customers," says Els Verburg, Quality Manager at Fresh Mushroom Europe in Belgium. In addition to a visual quality control test, the company also works with an external laboratory to have a quality analysis performed. Only when the tests come back with a good result, Fresh Mushroom Europe will release the product. "We provide our customers with a guarantee that our product has been tested and is safe for consumption," Verburg said. "To prevent foodborne illness, we put a label on the packaging that suggests heating the product prior to consumption."

In the U.S., Mark Kreiner, Outside Sales Coordinator with Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms, is familiar with the recalls. "They are mostly related to Enoki mushrooms grown in Korea and/or China and shipped into North America," he said. "We source our Organic Enoki Mushrooms from a Canadian grower, Enviro Mushrooms, and have never had a recall on them," he continued. Kreiner mentioned Whole Foods Market took Enoki Mushrooms off the shelf last year due to food safety risks. "Whole Foods deleted our Enoki Mushrooms last year as a backlash to all the recalls that were happening with Asian grown mushrooms. This happened despite the fact that we explained to Whole Foods that our Enokis are grown and packed under strict organic growing standards by Enviro Mushrooms." Mother Earth has never had a recall on Canadian-grown Enokis and continues to supply its customers with no problems.

A combination of sourcing locally, performing strict quality control tests as well as heating Enokis prior to consumption could very well be the key to preventing food safety outbreaks.

For more information:
Els Verburg
Fresh Mushroom Europe
[email protected]

Mark Kreiner
Mother Earth, LLC
Tel: (+1) 610-268-5904
[email protected]