Food

FDA Investigated Multistate Outbreak of Listeria in Dole Leafy Greens Products Produced in the Dole Facility in Springfield, Ohio

March 31, 2016

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Update March 31, 2016
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of March 31, 2016, this outbreak appears to be over.

What was the Problem and What was Done About It?  

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis. According to CDC, 19 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from nine states since July 5, 2015. The number of ill people reported from each state was as follows: Connecticut (1), Indiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (4), Missouri (2), New Jersey (1), New York (6), Ohio (2), and Pennsylvania (1).

According to CDC, whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed on clinical isolates from all ill people and showed that the isolates were highly related genetically. Listeria specimens were collected from ill people between July 5, 2015 and January 31, 2016. Ill people ranged in age (in years) from 3 to 83, and a median age of 64. Seventy-four percent of ill people were female. All nineteen (100%) ill people reported being hospitalized, including one person from Michigan who died as a result of listeriosis. One of the illnesses reported was in a pregnant woman. Of 14 ill people who were asked about packaged salad, 13 (93%) reported eating a packaged salad. Nine (100%) of 9 ill people who specified the brand of packaged salad eaten reported various varieties of Dole brand packaged salad.

As part of a routine product sampling program, the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected a Dole brand Field Greens packaged salad from a retail location and isolated Listeria monocytogenes. This packaged salad was produced at the Springfield, Ohio, Dole processing facility. In January 2016, WGS showed that the Listeria monocytogenes isolate from the packaged salad was closely related genetically to isolates from ill people. This information linked the illnesses to Dole brand packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.

On January 21, 2016, Dole reported to FDA and CDC that it ceased production of all packaged salads at its processing facility in Springfield, Ohio. Additionally, the company reported that it withdrew all packaged salads currently on the market that were produced at this facility.

On January 22, 2016, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a food recall warning disclaimer icon for products made at the Springfield, Ohio plant and reported that recalled salads had also been shipped to five provinces in Canada.

On January 27, 2016, Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. announced that it was recalling all packaged salads produced in its Springfield, Ohio, facility.

On January 28, 2016, the FDA completed its analysis and confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in a packaged salad produced at the Springfield, Ohio, facility.

According to a March 17, 2016 update disclaimer icon from Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), “the outbreak investigation coordinating committee has been deactivated and the investigation is coming to a close.”

On March 31, CDC reported that the outbreak appeared to be over.

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What Specific Products were Affected?

In January, 2016, Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. recalled all packaged salads produced in its Springfield, Ohio, facility. These products have a shelf-life of about 14 days, so it is unlikely that the products are still in stores or consumers’ refrigerators.

These products were sold in bags and clamshell packaging under the following brand names:

  • Dole
  • Fresh Selections
  • Simple Truth
  • Marketside
  • The Little Salad Bar
  • President's Choice Organics

Recalled products from the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio, had a product code beginning with the letter “A” on the packaging.
Dole Fresh Vegetables Salads Withdrawal - January 2016

The recalled salads were known to have been distributed to the following states, though there may have been further distribution to other 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
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

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What are the Symptoms of Listeriosis?

Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria called Listeria. Anyone who experiences fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, or develops fever and chills while pregnant after eating any of the recalled products, should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the potentially contaminated leafy greens. Symptoms can appear from a few days up to a few weeks after eating the contaminated food.

Who is at Risk of Developing Listeriosis? 

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.

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What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need to Do to Prevent Listeriosis?

Retailers and restaurants should not serve recalled products and should dispose of them.
They should also:

Wash and sanitize refrigerators where potentially contaminated products were stored.

Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store potentially contaminated products.

Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with these products.

Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of cutting boards and utensils used in processing may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures in foods like leafy greens. Listeria can also cross contaminate other food cut and served on the same cutting board or stored in the same area.

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators may wish to consider whether other foods available for sale could be cross-contaminated from the potentially contaminated products, and should be discarded. 

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What Can Consumers Do to Prevent Listeriosis?

Recommendations for preventing listeriosis are available at the CDC Listeria website.

Listeria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). The longer that ready-to-eat refrigerated foods are stored in the refrigerator, the more opportunity Listeria has to grow.

It is very important that consumers thoroughly clean their refrigerators and other food preparation surfaces that may have come in contact with the potentially contaminated products.

Consumers should follow these simple steps:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; then dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator immediately and clean the refrigerator regularly.
  • Always wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitization process. 

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Who Should be Contacted? 

Retailer and consumer questions about the recall should be directed to the Dole Food Company Consumer Response Center at 844-483-3865. Its temporary extended hours are 8:00am -8:00pm EST, Monday - Friday.

The FDA also encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or to consult the fda.gov website: http://www.fda.gov. 

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Additional Information

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Page Last Updated: 03/31/2016
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