FDA investigates multistate outbreak of Listeria linked to Dole packaged salad

U.S – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners, is working to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections potentially linked with the consumption of Dole packaged salad.

Dole packaged salad is manufactured by Dole Food Company, an American agricultural multinational corporation. The company is the largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, operating with 74,300 full-time and seasonal employees who are responsible for over 300 products in 90 countries.

Dole voluntarily ceased production at both its Bessemer City, N..C. facility and Yuma, Ariz., facilities and has voluntarily recalled all products and brands produced with production lot codes beginning with either the letter “N” or “Y” in the upper right-hand corner of the package, and Best if Used By dates from Nov. 30, 2021, to Jan. 8, 2022.

“Two product samples from two Dole facilities have been found to match the outbreak strain. Sampling conducted by the Georgia Department of Agriculture of prepackaged salad mix detected Listeria monocytogenes and, as a result, Dole initiated a recall of prepackaged garden salad mixes from a Dole facility in Bessemer City, N.C., in October 2021,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response.

This outbreak has thus far been associated with 16 illnesses, 12 hospitalizations and two deaths spanning the states of Iowa, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from Aug. 16, 2014, to Oct. 17, 2021. One case occurred in 2014 and the remaining cases occurred between 2018 and 2021.

Subsequent whole genome sequencing analysis showed that the Listeria in the positive product sample was a match to an outbreak strain.

In addition, Frank informed that the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recently initiated retail sampling of Dole products in their state and found one product containing lettuce from a Dole facility in Yuma, Ariz., to be positive for the outbreak strain.

“As a result of these new findings, Dole is voluntarily ceasing production and initiating a new recall of various products and brands produced at both facilities. A full list of recalled products and brands are available on the FDA’s website,” he said.

This is the second Listeria outbreak potentially linked to packaged salads that the FDA and CDC are currently investigating.

Fresh Express packaged salad recall

The FDA had earlier announced a separate outbreak investigation of Listeria found in Fresh Express packaged salad. Fresh Express is the leading food and non-alcoholic beverage distributor in the premium food and hospitality business in the Gulf Region

Between July 26 and October 19 2021, 10 people were reported sick with Listeria monocytogenes in 8 states, with 1 death reported as a result of eating these products.

The Fresh Express recall covers salads with product codes Z324 through Z350 for all use-by dates. Recalled brands include Fresh Express, Bowl & Basket, Giant Eagle, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, O Organics, Signature Farms, Simply Nature, Weis Fresh from the Field, and Wellsley Farms Organic, according to the CDC.

Listeria is a bacteria that can be found in dust, soil, animal feces, and other substances. Consumption of contaminated food could lead to listeria infection, one of the main causes of food poisoning.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The infection usually doesn’t lead to serious illness if you’re healthy, though you may feel sick for a day or two.

However, it can be particularly severe for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, and possibly life-threatening for pregnant women and their babies.

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