As three more companies posted recalls because of a Listeria outbreak traced to peeled hard boiled eggs, federal officials today updated a public alert warning against certain packaged hard boiled eggs sold at retailers including Walmart, Kroger, Trader Joe’s and Costco. Eggland’s Best brand is also involved.

Inspectors found the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes at a Georgia production plant owned and operated by Almark Foods Inc. The Food and Drug Administration sent the company a warning letter this past summer regarding the positive findings at the plant. 

At least one person has died in the multistate outbreak, with the most recent patient having become ill in November.

Recalls have included a variety of products, ranging from egg salad prepared and sold under the Trader Joe’s brand to Great American Deli vending machine sandwiches. The secondary recalls such as these involve products made with recalled Almark Foods bulk hard boiled eggs eggs.

“The initial recall included bulk hard-boiled eggs in pails and now includes product packaged for sale at retail within shelf life, which have ‘Best If Used By Dates’ through March 2, 2020. At this time, Almark Foods is no longer producing products from this facility,” according to the updated alert posted by the FDA.

“. . . Food processors, restaurants, and retailers should not sell or serve any of the recalled hard-boiled and peeled eggs from Almark Foods. These products were sold in bulk pails to food processors, restaurants and retailers, and in retail packaging to retailers for direct-sale to consumers.”

Public health officials are recommending that restaurants, other foodservice operators, retailers and consumers thoroughly clean and sanitize any containers and refrigerators used to store the implicated hard boiled eggs. 

As of Dec. 17, a total of seven people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been confirmed in five states. Of the five people for whom information was available, four reported eating products containing eggs. Three of these people reported eating hard-boiled eggs in deli salads purchased from grocery stores and in salads eaten at restaurants. 

Illnesses started on dates ranging from April 10, 2017, to Nov. 12, 2019.

“Based on whole-genome sequencing, the Listeria monocytogenes found in  environmental samples collected at the firm’s processing facility during FDA inspections conducted in February 2019 and December 2019 are a genetic match to the outbreak strain,” according to the FDA update. 

“Almark Foods has been cooperating with the ongoing investigation and announced an initial voluntary recall of hard-boiled and peeled eggs in pails on Dec. 20, 2019. On Dec. 23, 2019 Almark Foods expanded the initial recall to include all hard-boiled eggs produced at its Gainesville, GA facility.”

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled product and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

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