At least four people in New York state have been sickened with Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning in an outbreak associated with eating certain bagged salads.
Whole genome sequencing performed on clinical isolates from all ill persons showed that the bacteria are highly genetically related to each other. All four sickened in that state have been hospitalized. Nationally, the case count by state is: Indiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (4), New Jersey (1), New York (4), and Pennsylvania (1). The age range of patients is from 3 years to 83 years, and 69% of those sickened are female.
In November 2015, the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected a Dole brand Field Greens packaged salad from a retail store and isolated Listeria monocytogenes that was highly related to the isolates from the patients. The source of these illnesses was not known until January 2016, according to the FDA, when the lab result from Ohio was completed.
Dole recalled certain salads, only those with a product number starting with an “A”. All other salads were not recalled. The recalled salads were sold in these states, according to the CDC: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The brand names the salads were sold under include Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar, and President’s Choice Organics. The recalled packages are identified by the letter “A” at the start of the manufacturing code on the packages.
Restaurants may have served these salads, since the CDC states “restaurants should not serve, and retailers should not sell, packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.” If you ate a salad at a restaurant and are concerned that it may have been part of the recall, contact the restaurant and ask if they received any recalled product.
The symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning include flu-like fever and muscle aches, upset stomach or diarrhea, stiff neck, headache, loss of balance, confusion, or convulsions. Symptoms usually appear within a few days or a few weeks after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria, but some people don’t get sick up to 70 days later.
Pregnant women are at special risk for serious problems caused by this bacteria. Even though they are only mildly ill with flu-like symptoms, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious infection in the newborn baby.
If you ate one of the recalled salads, watch yourself for the symptoms of listeriosis for the next 70 days. If you do get ill, or if you are worried about this, please contact your doctor. He or she will know how to proceed, and if you need to be seen or tested.
If you purchased one of the recalled salads, immediately put it into a large plastic bag and seal it. You can throw it away in a sealed garbage can, or return it to the place of purchase for a refund. Wash your hands well with soap and water after handling the product.
Then clean out your refrigerator with a mild bleach solution to kill any remaining bacteria. Listeria bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures. Clean cutting boards, utensils, dishes, plates, or surfaces that may have come into contact with the product with soap and water, or use the dishwasher to clean them. Again, wash your hands well with soap and water after handling the product.