About Listeria Blog
More Listeria illnesses linked to El Abuelito Cheese
Epidemiologic and laboratory data show that queso fresco cheeses made by El Abuelito Cheese Inc. are contaminated with Listeria and have made people sick.
Since the last update on February 19, three more illnesses have been reported. As of February 23, a total of 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from four states – New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia. Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 20, 2020, to February 9, 2021, with nine recent illnesses in 2021.
Sick people range in age from <1 to 75 years, with a median age of 54. Nine people are Hispanic, and six people are female. Two illnesses are pregnancy-associated. Out of nine people with information available, all have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Listeria. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
Investigators are concerned that additional El Abuelito brand cheeses made or handled in the same facility as the queso fresco may be contaminated with Listeria. CDC and FDA are expanding our advice to recommend people not eat, sell, or serve any cheeses sold under the brand name of El Abuelito, in addition to the recalled queso fresco cheeses.
Listeria Recall: Fresno State Creamery
Butter produced by the Fresno State Creamery and sold mostly through the university’s Gibson Farm Market is being voluntarily recalled because of possible contamination of a bacteria called listeria monocytogenes.
The recall includes 15-ounce tubs of the “regular” butter spread stamped with the product code 249 and a sell-by date of either “02/01/20” or “08/01/20,” the university reported Wednesday afternoon. Forty containers of the butter were sold at the farm market at the college, and one additional tub was sold at another site.
The university is asking customers who bought the butter product at the Gibson Farm Market to return products with the affected code and sell-by states to the store for a refund. So far, no illness have been reported from consuming the product, but the creamery is recalling the butter voluntarily as a precaution.
Spanish Listeria Outbreak tops 200
According to Spanish health official illness have reached 204 with at least three deaths. In Andalusia, in southern Spain has reported the bulk of the cases with 197, with most of the cases in this community reported from Seville (162).
Of the patients confirmed in Andalusia, 58 percent presented symptoms compatible with acute gastroenteritis, 47% presented with fever, 10% (19) developed meningeal forms and four patients had sepsis.
Three fatalities have been reported to date–two people over 70 and a person over 90 years old.
4 laboratory confirmed cases have been registered (1 in Aragón, 1 in Castilla y León, 1 in Extremadura and 1 pregnant woman of 8 weeks in Madrid who lost the baby) and 3 cases confirmed by epidemiological link (1 in Extremadura and 2 in Aragon).
In addition, 66 probable cases and 58 suspects have been reported in Aragón, Asturias, Canary Islands, Castile and León, Castilla La Mancha, Catalonia, Community Valenciana, Extremadura, Madrid and Melilla.
A UK citizen identified in France is suspected to be associated with the same outbreak.
The implicated food source is roasted pork meat, commercialized under the brand ‘La Mechá’, produced by a company in Seville, Spain. The company has recalled all products manufactured since May 2019 and discontinued production.
More Raw Milk with Listeria Risk
The State Department of Agriculture has issued a consumer warning regarding raw milk in Otsego County.
The state says unpasteurized cow milk from the Muddy River Dairy in Otego has tested positive for a harmful Listeria monocytogene bacteria.
The state says Muddy River Dairy is prohibited from selling raw milk until new test samples come back clear.
There have not been any reported illnesses due to this contaminated milk. Potential symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeriosis can even cause miscarriages or stillbirth in pregnant women.
Salads recalled over Listeria
Elevation Foods is voluntarily recalling containers of Archer Farms-brand egg salad; Freskëtbrand egg salad, tuna salad, and Thai lobster salad; and Archer Farms-brand deviled egg sandwiches produced on June 18, 2019 due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. 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.
We believe fewer than 1,087 cases of product have been directly shipped to retailer warehouses throughout the United States.
No illnesses have been reported to date.
The recalled products were manufactured at Elevation Foods’ Knoxville, Tennessee facility.
Elevation Foods is working with distributors and retailers to quarantine and recover any impacted product remaining on store shelves.
The containers have the “use by” dates stated below printed on the side of each container and the lot number stated for each product on the side or the lid (see attached pictures). This recall applies only to the products with the lot numbers and “use by” dates stated below.
- Archer Farms-brand Egg Salad packaged in a 12-ounce clear, square plastic container, Lot Number W1906042A, Use By 12AUG2019 (printed on the side of each container) UPC 085239018682, distributed nationwide
- Freskët-brand Egg Salad packaged in a 32-ounce clear, square plastic container, Lot Number W1906042, Use By 12AUG2019A (printed on the side of each container
- Freskët-brand Tuna Salad packaged in a 5-pound white, round plastic container, Lot Number W1906054, Use By 02AUG2019A (printed on the side of each container
- Freskët-brand Thai Lobster Salad packaged in a 5-pound white, round plastic container, Lot Number W1906041, Use By 02AUG2019A (printed on the side of each container)
- Archer Farms Deviled Egg Sandwich Half Sandwich with Bacon, UPC 220505000002, distributed nationwide
- Archer Farms Deviled Egg Sandwich on Multigrain, UPC 498780203566, distributed nationwide
Elevation Foods identified the problem with the products after receiving positive test results for three containers of affected egg salad which were sampled and tested by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Elevation Foods is continuing to investigate potential sources of the problem.
Listeria Recall: Red Peppers
UNFI is voluntarily recalling its 10 ounce packages of Woodstock frozen Organic Grilled Red Peppers because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes . 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 infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
The product comes in a 10 ounce plastic package marked with UPC code 4256301714, lot #60B, and an expiration date of April 2020 stamped on the back of the package and was distributed nationally to retail stores.
No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.
The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the lot number identified above. The production of the product has been suspended while RIDOH and UNFI continue to investigate.
More Dead by Listeria from Sandwiches
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.
Listeria with French Cheese
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.
Listeria and Deli Meat – A Deadly Combo
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.
Outbreak of Listeriosis Likely Associated with Prepackaged Caramel Apples — United States, 2017
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.