Twelve people from six states [Indiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (4), New Jersey (1), New York (4), and Pennsylvania (1)] have been sickened by Listeria monocytogenes since last July prompting an investigation by numerous agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The multistate outbreak has resulted in all twelve people requiring hospitalization for their illness. In addition, one person from Michigan died as a result of listeriosis. Another illness was reported in a pregnant woman.
All twelve isolates have been determined to be highly related genetically.
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence available to date indicate that packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio and sold under various brand names are the likely source of this outbreak.
Although the investigation began in September 2015, the source of these illnesses wasn’t known until January 2016 when the laboratory result from the packaged salad collected in Ohio linked the illnesses to the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.
On January 21, 2016, Dole reported to CDC that it had stopped all production at the processing facility in Springfield, Ohio. The company also reported that it is withdrawing all packaged salads currently on the market that were produced at this facility.
CDC recommends that consumers do not eat, restaurants do not serve, and retailers do not sell packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.
These packaged salads were sold under various brand names.
Brands of packaged salads include Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar, and President’s Choice.
These packaged salads can be identified by the letter “A” at the beginning of the manufacturing code found on the package.
At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that packaged salads produced at other Dole processing facilities in the United States are linked to illness.
Listeria monocytogenes is bacteria that is normally found in the environment and has been found in animals, birds and vegetation. It can be found in raw foods and processed foods that get contaminated after processing. Some of the most common foods that are associated with listeriosis are raw milk, soft cheeses, vegetables, and many ready to eat meats like hot dogs, deli meats and pâtés.
Those at greatest risk of serious listeria infection include pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with weakened immune systems (AIDS patients have a significantly high chance, up to 300 times, of contracting the disease).
Most healthy persons show no symptoms of this disease. Initial symptoms of food borne listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, fatigue and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Primarily in high risk groups but occasionally in healthy adults, the infection can spread to the blood and central nervous system where it can cause sepsis and meningitis.
Due to a naturally depressed immune system, pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to contract this disease. Though many women may only experience mild flu-like symptoms,infections during pregnancy can have devastating consequences to the fetus which include stillbirth or miscarriage, premature delivery and serious infections in the newborn.
What things can you do to prevent this infection? The US CDC offers recommendations to the generalpublic and high risk groups:
• Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry.
• Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
• Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
• Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk.
• Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
• Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible
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.
This very hardy bacterium can survive and even grow at refrigeration temperature. Because of this factor, Listeria presents challenges in food safety.