Federal health officials are investigating a listeria outbreak linked to hardboiled eggs, which have been recalled amid reports of illnesses in several different states, which have resulted in several hospitalizations and at least one death.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Food Safety Alert on December 24, warning that at least seven people across five states have become ill with a similar strain of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning after consuming contaminated hard-boiled egg products.
The investigation was launched after Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia issued a hardboiled egg recall on December 20, which included approximately 200,000 pounds of hard-boiled and peeled egg products distributed throughout the United States to Walmart, Trader Joe’s, and various other retailers and grocery stores.
According to the recall notice, nearly 80 different hard-boiled egg products sold under more than 30 brands were recalled, over concerns they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Although the products were not sold directly to consumers, restaurants and grocery stores used the recalled eggs to make a variety of cold and premade salads.
The CDC, in conjunction with the FDA, instructed food processors, grocery stores, and restaurants to stop using any bulk hard-boiled eggs produced from the Almark Georgia plant, and to be extremely vigilant in sanitizing any surface areas or equipment the products may have come in contact with.
Since the recall announcement, Almark Foods has temporarily shut down operations at the Georgia facility as it continues to work with the FDA to determine the source of the listeria contamination. Almark announced it plans to sterilize the entire plant and reopen after the FDA is confident the contamination has been eliminated.
A Trader Joe’s egg recall was issued on Monday, withdrawing its Egg Salad, 6 oz and Trader Joe’s Old Fashioned Potato Salad, 20 oz products with “USE BY” date codes up through and including December 27, 2019.
Trader Joe’s announced the potentially contaminated products were sold at locations in Alabama, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin.
Listerosis is a foodborne illness which can cause serious health consequences and death, especially for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The infection is considered by the FDA as one of the more dangerous foodborne illnesses and frequently results in hospitalizations and carries a 25% fatality rate.
Symptoms of listeria infections may include nausea, muscle ache, diarrhea, fever, and fatigue. In severe cases for the elderly and young children, the bacteria could spread through the bloodstream to the nervous system resulting in sometimes fatal infections. For pregnant women, listerosis can pose a risk of miscarriages, still births, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
Officials announced the investigation is still ongoing and more information involving specific retailers and impacted products will be published as it becomes available.
Consumers with questions can contact Almark Foods’ Customer Helpline at (877) 546-0454.