Massive Tyson Chicken Recall Linked To Listeriosis Food Poisoning Cases

More than 8 million pounds of Tyson’s ready-to-eat chicken products have been recalled, following reports of listeria food poisoning illnesses.

The U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced the Tyson chicken recall on July 3, following at least three listeriosis cases among long-term care facility residents who were served Tyson poultry products, resulting in two hospitalizations and at least one death in two different states.

Officials are instructing customers to immediately stop eating approximately 8,492,832 pounds of Tyson ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken products, as they may be tainted with Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal food poisoning illnesses, especially to young children, elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

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FSIS officials announced epidemiologic and traceback investigations have determined certain lots of Tyson frozen, fully cooked chicken products are likely the source of several illnesses reported between April 6 and June 5, 2021.  Officials announced that during routine sample collection, two precooked chicken samples from two establishments were closely related genetically to Listeria monocytogenes found in those who became ill.

To date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports all three illnesses involved residents of a long-term care facility or hospital. Given the potentially fatal effects listeria can have on the elderly, the CDC is instructing care facilities to take extra precautions to prevent the spread of a listeria outbreak.

The Listeria monocytogenes organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, posing a particularly 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.

Listeria 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 CDC advises speaking with a doctor if you experience any symptoms of headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches after eating the contaminated product.

The recall includes at least 30 different flavors of Tyson frozen, fully cooked chicken strips, diced chicken, chicken wing sections, and fully cooked pizza with chicken  that are marked with establishment number “EST. P-7089” on the product bag or inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were sold under brand names including Tyson, Jet’s Pizza, Casey’s General Store, Marco’s Pizza, and Little Caesars. A full list of affected products is available in the recall notice linked above.

The recalled chicken products were distributed nationwide between December 26, 2020 and April 13, 2021 to retailers and institutions, including hospitals, nursing facilities, restaurants, schools and Department of Defense locations.

Customers are being instructed to stop consuming the products immediately and to check their freezers for any remaining inventory, which should either be discarded or returned to its place or purchase. Consumers with additional questions are being instructed to contact Tyson Foods customer relations, at (855) 382-3101.

FSIS officials are continuing to work with the CDC to track the outbreak, and indicate that since listeria symptoms can take upward of four weeks for onset, additional illnesses are expected to be reported. Updates on the outbreak will be posted to the CDC’s website.

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