Dole Food Co. and the FDA remain mum on the status of a salad processing facility linked to a deadly international Listeria outbreak, which began in May 2015 and wasn’t declared over until this week.

The salad production facility in Springfield, OH, was highlighted in Dole’s 2010 corporate report.“At present I don’t have any updates yet to share regarding the Springfield (Ohio) facility,” Dole’s William Goldfield said March 25, adding that he hoped to have an announcement in the “upcoming weeks.”
Dole officials did not provide any additional comments when asked about the final outbreak update, posted yesterday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is similarly silent on the topic. An FDA notice posted Thursday after the CDC’s announcement referred to the investigation in the past tense. It did not include any information other than details already released by the CDC. Nineteen people in 9 states were confirmed to have had listeriosis infections from the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes as was found during random sampling of bagged salads collected at retail by the FDA, according to the CDC’s final outbreak update. All 19 victims in the U.S. were so sick that they required hospitalization. One person in Michigan died. Canadian officials also declared an end to the outbreak this week. Lab analysis confirmed 14 people in Canada contracted listeriosis, with the likely source identified as bagged salads from the Dole plant in Springfield, OH. Three of patients in Canada died, but authorities there are not 100 percent positive their deaths were caused by their infections. Men in black playing it close to the vest Men-in-Black-poker-card-DoleThe FDA will not release its report on inspections of Dole’s salad plant in Springfield. The agency reported earlier this year that Dole officials voluntarily closed the plant on Jan. 21. On Jan. 27 Dole recalled all salad varieties, distributed under various brands, that were produced at the plant. Until regurgitating the CDC’s notice Thursday, the FDA had not posted an update on its investigation since Jan. 29, even though there has been ample time for initial and follow-up laboratory tests to be completed on samples from the salad plant. Agency officials denied a request from Food Safety News for the Form 483 on the Dole facility inspection, saying the publication would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the public document. That request is pending with the FDA. The FDA issues a “Form 483” to management of companies at the conclusion of inspections that reveal conditions that “may constitute violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act and related Acts,” according to the FDA website. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)