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Listeria Blog

Surveillance & Analysis on Listeria News & Outbreaks

Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Listeria

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to Dole and PC Organics packaged salad products produced from a US processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.

Currently, there are 11 cases of Listeria monocytogenes in five provinces related to this outbreak: Ontario (7), Quebec (1), New Brunswick (1), Prince Edward Island (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Individuals became sick between May 2015 and early January 2016. Some of the individuals who became ill have reported eating packaged salads. It is suspected that these salads were produced at the Dole facility in Ohio. The majority of Canadians cases (55%) are female, with an average age of 79 years. All cases have been hospitalized, and three people have died, however it has not been determined if Listeria contributed to the cause of these deaths.

On Friday, January 22, CFIA issued a food recall warning advising Canadians of the recall to Dole and PC Organics packaged salad products under various product names that were distributed in eastern provinces. The Public Health Agency of Canada advises Canadians not to consume packaged salad products that have been processed at the Dole facility in Springfield, Ohio. This includes a variety of Dole and PC Organics brand items. These products can be identified by letter the “A” at the beginning of the manufacturing code found on the package. For a full list of products, please refer to the CFIA recall notice.

Fifteen people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from eight states since July 5, 2015. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Connecticut (1), Indiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (4), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), New York (5), and Pennsylvania (1). Whole genome sequencing has been performed on clinical isolates from all ill people and has shown that the isolates are highly related genetically. Listeria specimens were collected from ill people between July 5, 2015 and January 3, 2016. Ill people range in age from 3 years to 83, and the median age is 64. Seventy-three percent of ill people are female. All 15 (100%) ill people were hospitalized, including one person from Michigan who died as a result of listeriosis. One of the illnesses reported was in a pregnant woman.

Listeria in Dole Lettuce in the US and Canada

Since September 2015, CDC has been collaborating with public health officials in several states and the FDA to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. Twelve people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from six states since July 5, 2015. Twelve people were hospitalized, and one person from Michigan died as a result of listeriosis. One illness was reported in a pregnant woman. Laboratory tests performed on clinical isolates from all 12 ill people showed that the isolates are highly related genetically.  Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania state impacted.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections in five provinces. To date, the source of this outbreak has not been confirmed. However prepackaged leafy greens, salad blends, and salad kits are food items being investigated. Currently, there are seven (7) cases of Listeria monocytogenes in five provinces related to this outbreak: Ontario (3), Quebec (1), New Brunswick (1), Prince Edward Island (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Individuals became sick between September 2015 and early January 2016. The majority of cases (71%) are female, with an average age of 81 years. All cases have been hospitalized, and one person has died, however it has not been determined if Listeria contributed to the cause of death.

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. The Ohio Department of Agriculture collected a Dole brand Field Greens packaged salad from a retail location and isolated Listeria. Laboratory tests showed that the Listeria isolate from the packaged salad was highly related genetically to isolates from ill people. This packaged salad was produced at the Springfield, Ohio Dole processing facility.

Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., is temporarily suspending operations at its Springfield, Ohio production facility, and is voluntarily withdrawing from the market all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at that location (see the product list at http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/) Products subject to the voluntary withdrawal are identified with a product code beginning with the letter “A” in the upper right-hand corner of the package (see example below), and are sold in the following states and Canadian provinces noted below. This suspension and withdrawal is being performed voluntarily by Dole out of an abundance of caution, in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control. See more about this withdrawal at www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/ No additional Dole facilities are affected. Other Dole products, including fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and packaged salads from Dole’s other processing facilities (with product codes beginning with the letters “B” or “N”), are not part of this voluntary withdrawal.

Seven with Listeria in Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections in five provinces. To date, the source of this outbreak has not been confirmed. However prepackaged leafy greens, salad blends, and salad kits are food items being investigated.

Currently, there are seven (7) cases of Listeria monocytogenes in five provinces related to this outbreak: Ontario (3), Quebec (1), New Brunswick (1), Prince Edward Island (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Individuals became sick between September 2015 and early January 2016. The majority of cases (71%) are female, with an average age of 81 years. All cases have been hospitalized, and one person has died, however it has not been determined if Listeria contributed to the cause of death.

Listeria Test Performed By Customer Causes Del Monte Fresh to Recall Granny Smith Apples

Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc., (“Del Monte Fresh”) is initiating a voluntary recall of Granny Smith green apples because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stuffiness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

A total of 695 boxes containing 8 “Granny Smith” green apples each and 67 clear plastic bags containing 6 “Granny Smith” green apples each were distributed to Coremark and 7-Eleven for sale in convenience stores in the Mountain States region on Oct. 1-12, 2015. States affected include CO, KS, MO, NE, NM, OK, SD, UT and WY. The apples at store level are individual fruit on open displays.

No illnesses have been reported to date. The problem was discovered when a customer performed microbial testing on raw apples received.

New Research – Caramel Apples and Listeria Risk

thKathleen A. Glass, Max C. Golden, Brandon J. Wanless, Wendy Bedale, Charles Czuprynski Author Affiliations Food Research Institute, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

ABSTRACT

A 2014 multistate listeriosis outbreak was linked to consumption of caramel-coated apples, an unexpected and previously unreported vehicle for Listeria monocytogenes. This outbreak was unanticipated because both the pH of apples (<4.0) and the water activity of the caramel coating (<0.80) are too low to support Listeria growth. In this study, Granny Smith apples were inoculated with approximately 4 log10 CFU of L. monocytogenes (a cocktail of serotype 4b strains associated with the outbreak) on each apple’s skin, stem, and calyx. Half of the apples had sticks inserted into the core, while the remaining apples were left intact. Apples were dipped into hot caramel and stored at either 7°C or 25°C for up to 11 or 28 days, respectively. Data revealed that apples with inserted sticks supported significantly more L. monocytogenes growth than apples without sticks under both storage conditions. Within 3 days at 25°C, L. monocytogenes populations increased >3 log10 in apples with sticks, whereas only a 1-log10 increase was observed even after 1 week for caramel-coated apples without sticks. When stored at 7°C, apples with sticks exhibited an approximately 1.5-log10 increase in L. monocytogenes levels at 28 days, whereas no growth was observed in apples without sticks. We infer that insertion of a stick into the apple accelerates the transfer of juice from the interior of the apple to its surface, creating a microenvironment at the apple-caramel interface where L. monocytogenes can rapidly grow to levels sufficient to cause disease when stored at room temperature.

IMPORTANCE

Neither caramel nor apples are a food where the pathogenic bacterium Listeria monocytogenes should grow, as caramel does not contain enough free water and apples are too acidic. Caramel-coated apples, however, were recently linked to a deadly outbreak of listeriosis. We hypothesized that inserting a stick into the apple releases juice to the interface between the apple and caramel, providing a more hospitable environment than either component alone. To test this hypothesis, apples were inoculated with L. monocytogenes prior to caramel dipping. Some apples had sticks inserted into them before dipping, while others did not. No growth of L. monocytogenes occurred on refrigerated caramel apples without sticks, whereas slow growth was observed on refrigerated caramel apples with sticks. In contrast, significant pathogen growth was observed within 3 days at room temperature on caramel apples with sticks inserted. Food producers should consider interfaces between components within foods as potential niches for pathogen growth.

FOOTNOTES

Citation Glass KA, Golden MC, Wanless B, Bedale W, Czuprynski C. 2015. Growth of Listeria monocytogenes within a caramel-coated apple microenvironment. mBio 6(5):e01232-15. doi:10.1128/mBio.01232-15.

Listeria in Green Beans

General Mills is recalling 60,000 bags of its Cascadian Farm frozen green beans after one package tested positive for Listeria. It is the second time this year that the bacteria were found in the company’s green beans.

The Minneapolis-based food company says no illnesses have been reported in either case. Listeria can cause fever, muscle aches, and even death.

The recall, announced Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, is for 16-ounce bags of Cascadian Farm green beans with a “Better If Used By” date of June 29, 2017. The bags were produced in June 2015.

In August, General Mills recalled 60,000 bags of Cascadian Farm green beans in 10-ounce packages. They were produced in March 2014 and had use-by dates of April 2016.

Soft Cheese with Listeria Kills 1 in Ohio

map-09-17-2015On September 16, 2015, Karoun Dairies, Inc. voluntarily recalled and ceased production of certain cheeses that the company distributes due to possible contamination with Listeria. The recall includes several brands and types of cheeses that were distributed to retail outlets in the United States. Products were sold under the following brands: Karoun, Arz, Gopi, Queso Del Valle, Central Valley Creamery, and Yanni. Products are vacuum packed, in jars or in pails. Weights vary from 5 ounces to 30 pounds. A full list of cheeses is available on the Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers page.

The CDC has reported that twenty-four people infected with one of the closely related Listeria strains have been reported from nine states since August 8, 2010. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: California (14), Colorado (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (1), New York (2), Ohio (1), Tennessee (1), and Washington (1).

Dates of Listeria specimen collection range from August 8, 2010 to August 24, 2015. The cluster was first identified in August 2015 after investigators saw an increase in one of the five rare PFGE  fingerprints reported to PulseNet. WGS found that the four other PFGE fingerprints were closely related genetically to the first PFGE fingerprint. Illnesses associated with those PFGE fingerprints were added to the investigation, including illnesses that occurred over 5 years ago. Additional illnesses are under investigation.

Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 92, and the median age is 77. Seventy-five percent of ill people are female. Twenty-one (91%) of 23 ill people for whom information is available reported being hospitalized. Five of the illnesses were pregnancy-related, and one illness resulted in a fetal loss. One death was reported from Ohio.

Pennsylvania Recalls Listeria Apple Wedges

Appeeling-Fruit-apple-package-225x300Appeeling Fruit Inc. of Dauberville, PA, is voluntarily recalling a limited number of consumer packages of fresh sliced apples with Best-if-Used-by dates of 09/14/15 and 09/21/15 due to the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

To date, health authorities have not linked any illnesses to this recall. No other products are affected by this recall.

The recalled product was shipped to retail distribution centers, wholesalers, and foodservice customers in the states of Florida, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, 2015.

Consumers can identify the recalled consumer products by the brand, UPC codes, and Best-if-Used-by dates provided in the table below.

The recall is being initiated after the company was informed that an environmental sample taken in the production facility as part of a routine sampling program tested positive for the bacteria. None of the final product tested positive, and subsequent test results from the facility have been negative.

Listeria Test Causes Maryland Cheese Recall

Picnic+Gourmet+SpreadsThe Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene say in a news release Friday that tests show that some products made by Picnic Gourmet Spreads may be contaminated.

The department says routine retail sampling and subsequent analysis revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the products.

The products include Red Pepper Feta Cheese Spread, Moroccan Cilantro Cheese Spread, Tandoori Garlic Cheese Spread, Herbed Goat Cheese, Parmesan Cheese Spread, and Chipotle Sage Cheese Spread. The spreads were distributed to stores in Maryland, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The agency says Picnic Gourmet Spreads has ceased production. Health officials say anyone who has Picnic Gourmet Spreads products should throw them away.

Listeria Positive Test Prompts Corn Recall

ucm460636Bonduelle USA Inc. of Brockport, NY is recalling 9,335 cases of frozen corn because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The frozen cut corn was distributed to stores in the following states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The affected frozen cut corn was distributed in poly bags under the following labels and codes:

  • WYLWOOD Super Sweet Whole Kernel Corn, NET WT. 16 OZ (1 LB), UPC 051933002401, Codes: Best By June 2017 K51564 and K51574;
  • MARKET BASKET Cut Corn, NET WT. 16 OZ. (1 LB.), UPC 049705693414, Code: Best By June 2017 K51574;
  • Bountiful Harvest WHOLE KERNEL CUT CORN, NET WT. 40 OZ. (2.5 LBS.), UPC 822486120597, Code: Best By June 2017 K51574;
  • WEST CREEK FROZEN VEGETABLES Cut Corn, NET WT. 2.5 LBS., UPC 00806795285239 Code: Best By June 2017 K51574.

The company has not received any complaints in relation to this product and is not aware of any illnesses associated with the product to date.

The recall was the result of product being tested at retail by the State of Tennessee which had tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The company has ceased distribution of the product, and the company and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.