Fresh Express Bagged Salad Recall Issued After Listeria Monocytogenes Infections, Death

Popular brands of bagged salad recalled due to Listeria infections causing food poisoning hospitalizations and death

As families prepare to gather for holiday meals later this week, federal health officials are warning consumers to stop eating certain Fresh Express bagged salads products, after indicating that the lettuce may be to blame for a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogen infections, including at least one death.

The Fresh Express bagged salad recall was announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 21, instructing customers to immediately discard any of the 225 separate brand lines of recalled bagged salad due the risk of listeria food poisoning.

Listeria monocytogenes infections can cause serious and sometimes fatal food poisoning in young children, frail or elderly people, posing a serious risk for persons with weakened immune systems. However, even healthy individuals can suffer side effects, including short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Among pregnant women, listeria monocytogenes infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

The Fresh Express recall comes after health officials identified at least 10 listeria infection cases reported out of Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey New York, Ohio Pennsylvania and Virginia. Officials indicate one food poisoning death has been reported in relation to the outbreak linked to Fresh Express brands of bagged salad products.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) was able to identify the specific strains of listeria monocytogens in Fresh Express bagged salads that matched the strain recovered from sickened individuals. As a result of the findings, Fresh Express has voluntarily ceased production at their Streamwood, Illinois, facility and initiated a recall of certain varieties of its branded and private label salad products produced at the company’s Streamwood, Illinois, facility.

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The recall includes approximately 225 product lines of bagged salads produced by Fresh Express which includes brand names Weis Fresh From the Field , Bowl & Basket, Fresh Express, Giant Eagle, Little Salad Bar, Market District, Market Side, O-Organics, Signature Farms, Simply Nature and Wellsley Farms Organic.

The recall impacts bagged salad products with all “Use-By Dates” marked with product codes Z324 through Z350. Customers may locate the product codes on the front of the package below the Use-By Date.

The products were distributed through retailers in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana , Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. The recalled products were also distributed to retailers in provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, Canada.

Customers are being instructed to check their refrigerators for the recalled bagged salad products and to immediately discard any remaining inventory. Fresh Express has also informed retailers and distributors to remove them from store shelves and stop any further shipments to stores from distribution centers.

The FDA is also advising consumers to clean refrigerators, containers, and surfaces which may have touched the recalled bagged salad products, since Listeria can survive in your refrigerator and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.

Earlier this month, a cooked pork recall was announced by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) after identifying  234,391 pounds of cooked pork products produced by Alexander & Hornung, a Perdue Premium Meat may be contaminated with listeria.

Food Poisoning Risks

Food poisoning injuries from Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli and other harmful foodborne bacteria cause approximately 48 million illnesses annually resulting in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year.

Listeria monocytogen infections are considered as one of the more dangerous food poisoning illnesses, frequently resulting in hospitalizations and also carries a 25% fatality rate.

Listeria food poisoning symptoms usually start one to four weeks after eating food contaminated with the bacteria, but can start the same day or even up to 70 days after consumption. In some cases, severe illness may result if the bacteria spreads beyond the gut to other areas of the body.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that any consumers speak with a doctor if they experience any symptoms of headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches after eating the contaminated product.


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