December 3, 2023

FDA: Listeria in Wholesome Soy Sprouts Killed 3

This post was updated January 29.

Did Listeria in Wholesome Soy bean sprouts kill two people or three? It depends on which federal agency’s report you read.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its final report on the outbreak January 27 saying five people had been sickened and two of then died. Later that same day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  issued its report saying five people had been sickened and three of them died. The FDA updated its report today,  January 29, saying two people have died.

Both agencies agree that five people in two states were sickened between June and August, 2014; that  four cases were reported in Illinois and one was reported in Michigan and that all five case patients were hospitalized. But it’s unclear how many people survived the outbreak.

The investigation of the outbreak was a little unusual from the start. Usually, the FDA investigates a facility after a illnesses caused by the same bacterial thumbprint are identified and case patients identify potential sources of illness in interviews.

Bean Sprouts CloseupIn this case, the FDA went to Wholesome Soy’s Chicago facility for a routine inspection August 12 through September 3, 2014. While they were there, they discovered Listeria in two mung bean sprout samples and one sample of spent irrigation water. They then collected more samples from the facility, 25 of which were positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

On September 25, 2014,  results of a Whole Genome Sequencing analysis of the Listeria samples from the Wholesome Soy facility were found to be highly related to Listeria strains isolated from five people who became ill from June through August 2014.

FDA investigators then did a follow up inspection on October 7, 2014. Swabs taken during that visit also tested positive for the same strain of Listeria.

According to the FDA, the company permanently closed on November 10. No other illnesses were reported after September.

It will be interesting to see which, if either, agency changes the number of fatalities associated with the outbreak. And if they do, if they will note that they have made a change to their report, which neither agency did when they made changes to their reports about the caramel apple Listeria outbreak.



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