The FDA and CDC, in collaboration with state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. According to the CDC, as of Dec. 21, 2021, 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from eight states — Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 26, 2016, to Oct. 19, 2021.
According to the FDA report, of the 10 infections, there have been 10 hospitalizations and one death.
As a part of routine sampling, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) collected a product sample of Fresh Express Sweet Hearts salad mix with a Use-By-Date of Dec. 8, 2021, for testing. The sample tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes and subsequent whole-genome sequencing (WGS) analysis determined that the Listeria monocytogenes present in the samples match the strain that has caused illnesses in this outbreak.
In response to the sample results and the ongoing outbreak investigation, Fresh Express voluntarily ceased production at the Streamwood, IL, facility and initiated a recall of certain varieties. The full recall can be viewed here.
Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, said “The FDA, along with the CDC and our state and local partners, is working to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections.
“We will continue to work with our partners and with Fresh Express to determine the source of this outbreak. We remain committed to transparency and providing updates as we learn more during our continuing traceback investigation.”
The FDA recommends that anyone who received recalled products use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
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 the food poisoning 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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