Certain packages of Dole salad may be responsible for a multi-state Listeria outbreak, which has hospitalized at least 11 people and resulted one reported death, federal health regulators warn.
A Dole salad recall was announced by the FDA on January 22, impacting all packaged salad products processed at the Dole facility in Springfield, Ohio; where they believe the Listeria outbreak originated.
Dole has temporarily shut down all operations at the Ohio plant and is recalling all packaged salads originating or shipped from the facility.
The outbreak of Listeria food poisoning was first recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in July 2015, after the first illness was reported. The health agency began an investigation in September, working with several state and federal health departments to identify the source of the outbreak.
Earlier this month, the Ohio Department of Agriculture obtained a positive result for listeria in the Dole “Field Greens” packaged salad. Since the positive result was recorded, Dole has been working with both the CDC and the FDA to mitigate the spread of the outbreak and to recall all potentially contaminated products.
The Dole salad listeria outbreak has impacted 12 consumers to date. According to the CDC, all 12 individuals sickened were hospitalized including one pregnant woman. One of those individuals died from listerosis. Lab tests have revealed the infections found in patients are all highly related genetically.
The recall includes all Dole and privately branded bags of salad packaged at the Springfield, Ohio facility. Consumer may identify the recalled products by checking to see if the product code begins with an “A” that is located in the upper right hand corner of the salad bags. Product codes beginning with the letter “A” indicate processing took place at the Ohio plant and are included in the recall. Consumers and retailers are being asked to remove the products from shelves, and inventory and discard them immediately.
The recalled bags of salad were sold under the brand names Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar, and President’s Choice Organics to the following states: 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 CDC is urging consumers to discard of the products immediately and take the necessary precautions to prevent the spreading of contamination by washing the refrigerator drawers, cutting boards and surfaces, and washing your hands thoroughly after handling potentially contaminated areas or products.
Listeria is a foodborne illness that can cause serious health consequences and can be fatal, especially forchildren, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The infection poses a significant threat to pregnant women, who may be at an increased risk for miscarriages or still-births. The symptoms of listeria infection typically include nausea, muscle ache, diarrhea, fever, and fatigue. Some cases of listeria may become more life threatening when the infection moves through the bloodstream into the nervous system resulting in sometimes fatal infections.
Dole has been subject to several multi-state foodborne outbreaks over the last several years with its most recent occurring in October 2015, when the company recalled bags of spinach salad in 13 states. Dole was part of two other multi-state recalls in 2012 and 2014 when the company was forced to recall bags of Italian style salad in 15 states and three provinces in Canada for Listeria contamination, and the Dole Spinach salad recall that forced a recalls in 13 states.
The FDA hopes that later this year, tracking similar outbreaks will become easier.
In September, the FDA announced new rules, as part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) calling for covered food facilities, considered separate from farms, to develop plans that analyze and mitigate potential hazards to the safety of the food they produce or distribute. These plans and preventative controls must be monitored, verified and corrected when problems occur.
They must also strengthen their supply chain by identifying potential threats that could come through the raw materials, making sure they are only receiving materials from approved suppliers, or verifying the safety of raw materials shipped through temporary unapproved suppliers.
The new rules go into effect for some businesses starting this September.