Since the multi-agency investigation began into listeria cases linked to sandwiches and salads, Public Health England (PHE) has been analysing previously known cases of listeria from the past 2 months to see if they are linked to this outbreak. Whilst any risk to the public remains low, PHE’s Whole Genome Sequencing analysis has identified an additional 3 cases of listeria linked to this outbreak. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to nine. All of the cases of listeria infection were in hospital patients in England.

Sadly, one of the seriously ill 6 patients PHE confirmed last week has since died.

One of the patients confirmed today as linked to the outbreak had already died. This brings the number of deaths linked to this outbreak to 5.

The affected sandwiches and salads were withdrawn from hospitals when the links to the listeria infections were first identified and the multi-agency team then advised NHS organisations not to provide any Good Food Chain products to vulnerable patients. Evidence suggests that all individuals ate the affected products before the withdrawal took place in hospitals on the 25 May 2019. The food chain investigations continue.

Sandwiches and salads linked to the patients have been withdrawn and the supplier, The Good Food Chain, has voluntarily ceased production while the investigation continues. This business had been supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria. This business and North Country Quality Foods who they distribute through, have also voluntarily ceased production.

Dr Nick Phin, Public Health England, said:

To date, there have been no patients linked to this incident outside healthcare organisations, but we continue to investigate. Swift action was taken to protect patients and any risk to the public is low. PHE is continuing to analyse all recent and ongoing samples of listeria from hospital patients to understand whether their illness is linked to this outbreak.

PHE is working very closely with the Food Standards Agency, NHS England and Improvement, as well as partner organisations in Scotland and Wales, to investigate this outbreak.

Dr Colin Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer at the FSA said:

Our sympathies remain with the families of the patients who have tragically passed away. We have taken action along with local authorities to minimise the risk based on the evidence so far. The FSA will continue to investigate the cause of the outbreak to prevent a reoccurrence.

Whole Genome Sequencing is a laboratory tool used to investigate the DNA sequence of bacteria. Using this technology, we can identify matches between samples taken from patients with listeria and the food products under investigation to confirm whether patients are linked to the outbreak.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting the public to a possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination of l’Explorateur soft ripened cheese. This pasteurized, cow’s milk cheese was made by in St. Simeon, France and distributed throughout the U.S. The FDA advises consumers and retailers to not eat, sell, or serve cheese labeled as l’Explorateur.

L’Explorateur cheese has been packaged in clear plastic containers and is sold in the form of small, circular wheels in 250g quantities. The sell by dates on the package include May 7, 2019 and May 14, 2019. Product lot codes are 7742-H 057 and 77432-H 064. Cheese labeled as such should be thrown away immediately.

The Société Fromagère de la Brie firm is subject to an FDA Import Alert, allowing the agency to detain the food without physical examination until the firm demonstrates that its products no longer appear to be in violation of the FDA’s requirements.

Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. Anyone who experiences fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, or develops fever and chills after eating any of the products described above, should seek medical care.

Symptoms can appear from a few days up to a few weeks after consumption of the contaminated food. Listeriosis can be fatal, especially in certain high-risk groups. These groups include the elderly and people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions (such as cancer). In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.

People who think they might have symptoms of listeriosis should consult their health care provider.

Golden Pearl Mushrooms Ltd. is recalling GPM brand Pea Shoots from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
GPM GPM Sweet Pea Shoots 230 g 10851 6 84469 00008 7
GPM GPM Pea Shoots 100 g 10851 6 84469 00012 4
GPM GPM Pea Shoots 455 g 10851 6 84469 00018 6

The CDC and several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria infections linked to deli-sliced meats and cheeses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are monitoring the outbreak.

As of April 15, 2019, 8 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 4 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from November 13, 2016 to March 4, 2019. Ill people range in age from 40 to 88 years, with a median age of 57. Thirty-eight percent are female. All 8 people (100%) have been hospitalized. One death has been reported from Michigan.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that deli-sliced meats and cheeses might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and could make people sick.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the four weeks before they became ill. Of 6 people interviewed, 5 (83%) reported eating products sliced at a deli counter, including meats and cheeses. Delis where ill people shopped served many different brands of products and there is limited information about the brands ill people bought.

USDA-FSIS and FDA evaluated records state inspectors collected from delis where ill people ate to determine whether a common meat or cheese product was served at the delis. The analysis of the available documentation could not identify a common product. USDA-FSIS and FDA will continue to assist with the investigation should additional information become available.

The outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes has been identified in samples from meat sliced at a deli, and from deli counters in multiple retail locations in New York and Rhode Island. WGS showed that the Listeria strain from these samples is closely related genetically to the Listeria strain from ill people. This result provides more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating deli-sliced products. At this time, the investigation has not identified a common product that was sliced or prepared in the delis.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency posted a recall of Oreinos Mylopotamos brand Cretan Dry Mizythra, a type of hard cheese, at the request of MFG Distribution Inc. The company cited possible Listeria contamination as the reason for the recall.

MFG Distribution Inc. distributed their Oreinos Mylopotamos brand hard cheese to unidentified stores located in Ontario and Quebec. No other details about how the possible contamination was discovered were included in the recall notice.

“The recall was triggered by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results,” according to the recall notice posted on the CFIA website. The agency is conducting an investigation and will post additional recalls as necessary.

“Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick,” the recall notice said.

Although no injuries or illnesses had been reported as of the April 2 recall, consumers are urged to discard the recalled cheese immediately or return it to the store of purchase. According to the recall notice, the recalled hard cheese has no identifiable “Best Before” date or UPC number, and “all codes” are subject to recall.

The recalled hard cheese was sold in “1.45 kg” packages and has the “Oreinos Mylopotamos” brand name printed on the front of the packaging.

Listeria infection can take up to 70 days for symptoms to develop. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems can develop serious and sometimes deadly infections from exposure to Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

Anyone who has eaten Cretan Dry Mizythra hard cheese and developed Listeria symptoms should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the pathogen.

These products were sold in ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer and Dearborn Market stores located in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island and Virginia.

Wakefern Food Corp. has initiated a voluntary recall of a variety of Wholesome Pantry Organic nut butters because they may 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. No illnesses related to the recall have been reported.

Five varieties of nut butters, packed in 16 ounce plastic jars, with best by dates of June 2020 and earlier, have been recalled:

  • Wholesome Pantry Organic Creamy Salted Almond Butter UPC: 04119006004
  • Wholesome Pantry Organic Creamy Unsalted Almond Butter UPC: 04119006005
  • Wholesome Pantry Organic Unsalted Sunflower Butter UPC: 04119005827
  • Wholesome Pantry Organic Tahini Butter UPC: 04119005828
  • Wholesome Pantry Organic Cashew Butter  UPC: 04119006006

Wakefern was made aware of the issue when their supplier, Oskri Organics Corporation of Lake Mills, WI, notified them that several nut butters produced in their facility had tested positive for Listeria bacteria.

Henry Avocado Corporation is voluntarily recalling California-grown whole avocados sold in bulk at retail stores because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The corporation issued the voluntary recall due to positive test results on environmental samples taken during a routine government inspection at its California packing facility. There are no reported illnesses associated with this recall.

“We are voluntarily recalling our products and taking every action possible to ensure the safety of consumers who eat our avocados,” says Phil Henry, President of Henry Avocado.

Listeria monocytogenes is 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.

RECALLED PRODUCTS

The corporation is recalling California-grown conventional and organic avocados that were packed at Henry Avocado’s packing facility in California and distributed in Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

All shipments from the packing facility are subject to the recall (Henry Avocado did not begin packing there until late January 2019). Avocados imported from Mexico and distributed by Henry Avocado are not subjectto the recall and may continue to be sold and consumed.

Henry Avocado is contacting all affected customers to confirm that the recalled products are immediately removed from store shelves.

HOW TO IDENTIFY & WHO TO CALL

For conventional products purchased at retail, consumers can identify the recalled products by the “Bravocado” stickers.

Henry Avocado organic products do not carry the “Bravocado” label on the sticker. Instead, those products are labeled “organic” and include “California” on the sticker. Retailers can identify Henry Avocado organic products by the bar code on the stickers.

Fullei Fresh of Miami, Florida is voluntarily recalling Organic Bean Sprouts 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.

Organic Bean Sprouts were shipped to Whole Foods Markets in Florida and Freedom Fresh (a Miami distributor) on February 18, 2019.

The product is packaged as 4 oz. in plastic clamshells. It has a lot code 041 and a sell by date of February 28, 2019. This information is printed in black ink on the package label. The UPC code is 017442052108.

To date, Fullei Fresh has not been informed of any illnesses associated with this recall.

This recall was voluntarily issued after the Florida Department of Agriculture pulled a sample from a store shelf. Fullei Fresh is carrying out this recall with the knowledge of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Consumers can use the following information to determine if they have the recalled product. Anyone who has the recalled product should not consume it and destroy it.

On December 1, 2017, PulseNet, CDC’s molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, identified a cluster of three Listeria monocytogenes clinical isolates with indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern combinations. These isolates were closely related to one another by whole-genome multilocus sequence typing within three allele differences (range = 0–3 alleles), indicating that the infections were likely from the same source. CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and state and local health departments initiated a multistate investigation. An outbreak case of listeriosis was defined as an infection with L. monocytogenes, with an isolate that was indistinguishable by PFGE and closely related by whole-genome multilocus sequence typing to the outbreak strain isolated during October–December 2017.

The cases corresponding to the three isolates were identified in Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan. Isolation dates ranged from October 15, 2017, to October 29, 2017. Patients ranged in age from 55 to 71 years (median = 69 years), and all three patients were male. All patients were hospitalized for listeriosis; no deaths were reported. PulseNet was queried routinely for new isolate matches during the investigation, and no additional cases were identified.

Interviews were conducted with all three patients or their surrogates using the standard Listeria Initiative questionnaire (1), which asks about a variety of foods consumed in the month preceding illness onset. Grocery store receipts were collected for the patient in Michigan. Review of reported exposures indicated that all three patients had consumed prepackaged caramel apples purchased from retail establishments in the month preceding illness onset. A case-case analysis was performed comparing exposure frequencies for all food items included in the Listeria Initiative questionnaire for the three outbreak-associated cases with exposure frequencies for 186 sporadic cases of listeriosis from the same states reported to CDC since 2006. Caramel apple consumption was significantly higher among patients included in the outbreak, compared with that among patients with sporadic illnesses (odds ratio = 21.7; 95% confidence interval = 2.3–infinity). None of the interviewed patients had leftover caramel apples in their home for testing.

State and local officials collected records at two of the three retail locations where caramel apples had been purchased. All three retailers sold the same brand of caramel apples (brand A). The product was packaged in a plastic clamshell containing three caramel apples, each on a stick. Caramel apples were seasonal products that were only available for a short period in the fall at two of the retail locations. However, the retail location where the Illinois patient purchased caramel apples had the product in stock at the time of the investigation. Eight packages of caramel apples were collected for testing by the Illinois Department of Public Health, but L. monocytogenes was not detected in any samples. It was not known whether the tested caramel apples were from the same lots as those consumed by the ill persons in this outbreak.

During an inspection at the caramel apple production facility, FDA reviewed records and practices and collected environmental samples for testing. No significant food safety concerns were observed. None of the environmental swabs yielded L. monocytogenes. Environmental swabs collected at a single whole apple supplier yielded L. monocytogenes, but it was not the outbreak strain. Traceback activities did not implicate a specific lot or supplier of whole apples used in brand A caramel apple production during the period of interest.

No additional outbreak-associated illnesses were identified during the investigation. In light of the limited shelf life of the product (reported by the production facility to be 15 days), it was unlikely that caramel apples consumed by ill persons in this outbreak would have still been available for purchase or in persons’ homes at the time of the investigation. Because there was no evidence to suggest an ongoing risk to the public, no public warning was issued by federal or state agencies.

Although the outbreak strain of L. monocytogenes was not isolated from caramel apples or their production environment, the epidemiologic evidence indicated that caramel apples were the suspected vehicle in this outbreak. All outbreak-associated ill persons consumed a specific brand of a relatively uncommon food product in the month before their illness onset, and all were infected with indistinguishable L. monocytogenes strains. Caramel apples were previously implicated in a large multistate outbreak of listeriosis during 2014–2015, caused by contamination of whole apples (2). Ready-to-eat food processors, including those that make caramel apples, could consider the introduction and persistence of L. monocytogenes in food production environments as a potential hazard and mitigate that risk through appropriate environmental monitoring and preventive controls (3). Further research into the control of L. monocytogenes in fresh produce, including fresh apples, might help identify prevention strategies to reduce or eliminate the pathogen in some ready-to-eat foods.

An Eat Smart salad, Sweet Kale, has been recalled from stores because of a possible listeria monocytogenes contamination.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced Tuesday consumers should not eat the product, advising it either be thrown out or returned.

Those who do eat the salad are recommended to call a doctor if they feel sick. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, headaches and neck stiffness.

The recalled product is in the 156-gram “Shake Up” size, has a best before date of Dec. 3, and a universal product code of 7 09351 30243 5.

According to the CFIA, there have been no reported illnesses due to consuming the product yet.