Listeria strikes again. Within the past 12 months, the microbial menace has plagued the likes of pet product company Stella & Chewy's and food industry mainstays Chipotle and Blue Bell Creameries. Earlier this month, Starbucks became Listeria's latest victim after the coffeehouse chain was forced to recall breakfast sandwiches in 250 stores due to fears that the items may have been contaminated with the potentially fatal bacteria.

It's another potential blackeye for the foodservice segment and consumers are taking note. A national consumer survey conducted last year during the height of Chipotle's Listeria public relations nightmare revealed that 46% of U.S. consumers were increasingly concerned about food safety. In addition, nearly three out of four consumers (74%) said that fast food restaurants should monitor food safety more closely. The survey results were published in Consumers and Food Safety in the U.S.: Implications for Marketers, Retailers and Foodservice, a report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.

"Foodborne illness is a serious public health issue. Food safety is something retailers and restaurateurs must be ever vigilant against to sustain, and in some cases regain, the trust of the American public. Responsibility, accountability, and transparency are all necessary. We can't ignore the fact that annually one out of every six Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages," says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.

Starbuck's breakfast sandwiches are made by Massachusetts-based food manufacturer Progressive Gourmet. It was Progressive Gourmet that recalled the sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches labeled "Best Before: 07-AUG-2016" from the hundreds of stores across Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. The recall was a precaution taken after Listeria was discovered on a surface at Progressive Gourmet's production facility.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that causes a serious infection called listeriosis. Healthy adults and children hardly ever become seriously ill from Listeria. However, pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are at increased risk of illness. According to data published in Consumers and Food Safety in the U.S.: Implications for Marketers, Retailers and Foodservice, Listeria is part of a trio of bacterial threats (including Salmonella and E. coli) that have caused roughly 90% of multistate foodborne disease outbreaks from 2010 to 2014. Salmonella was responsible for the most illnesses and hospitalizations, while Listeria caused the most deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that listeriosis causes approximately 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths annually in the United States.

Learn more about the report.