January 6, 2022

FDA: Outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes found in Dole packaged salad

Dole Fresh Vegetables announced Dec. 22 a Voluntary Precautionary Recall of all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at its Bessemer City, North Carolina, and Yuma, Arizona, processing facilities due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes.

Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. is voluntarily recalling from the market all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at its Bessemer City, North Carolina, and its Yuma, Arizona, production facilities due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes and is also temporarily suspending operations at both facilities to conduct an extensive cleaning and sanitation protocol. Products subject to the voluntary recall are identified by a product lot code beginning with the either the letter “N” or “Y” in the upper right-hand corner of the package (see examples below) and will have a “Best if Used By” date between Nov. 30, 2021, and Jan. 8, 2022. Consumers who still have any of these products in their refrigerators are urged not to consume the product and to discard it immediately.

This suspension of operations and recall are being performed voluntarily by Dole out of an abundance of caution, in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decision to suspend operations and recall all products from these facilities was made after analyzing the strain of Listeria monocytogenes isolated in a single package of Dole-branded Garden Salad produced in the Bessemer City facility and a single package of shredded iceberg lettuce produced in the Yuma, Arizona, facility. Both of those items were randomly sampled by the state of Georgia and the state of Michigan, respectively, and were a genetic match with a strain of Listeria monocytogenes which FDA and CDC believe is responsible for sixteen illnesses since 2014.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Recalled salad items from the Bessemer City facility were distributed in the states of AL, CT, FL, GA, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MS, NC, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, and VA. Recalled salad items from the Yuma facility were distributed in the states of AL, AZ, CT, FL, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MS, NC, ND, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, and WI.

No products produced from Dole facilities in Springfield, Ohio (production/lot codes beginning with “W”) or Soledad, California (production/lot codes beginning with “B”) are included in these voluntary recalls. In addition, no other Dole products, including “ready-to-eat” salad products, fresh fruit, and field-packed fresh vegetables, are part of these voluntary recalls and are safe to consume.

Dole retailers have been advised to check store shelves and warehouse inventories to confirm that no recalled product is available for purchase by consumers.

Retailer and consumer questions about the voluntary recalls should be directed to the Dole Consumer Response Center at 800-356-3111, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific Time.

Dole Fresh Vegetables is coordinating closely with regulatory officials.

FDA responds

The following quote on Dec. 22 is attributed to Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response:

“The FDA, along with the CDC and our state and local partners, is investigating a mult-istate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections potentially linked to Dole packaged salad. Dole has voluntarily recalled packaged salads produced at two of their facilities, and consumers are being advised not to eat, sell or serve any of the recalled products. It’s important to understand that this is an ongoing investigation, and should further products be implicated, the FDA will take steps to alert the public.

“To date, this outbreak has been associated with 16 illnesses reported from 13 states. Two product samples from two Dole facilities have been found to match the outbreak strain. Sampling conducted by the Georgia Department of Agriculture of prepackaged salad mix detected Listeria monocytogenes and, as a result, Dole initiated a recall of prepackaged garden salad mixes from a Dole facility in Bessemer City, North Carolina in October 2021.

Subsequent Whole Genome Sequencing analysis showed that the Listeria in the positive product sample was a match to an outbreak strain. In addition, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recently initiated retail sampling of Dole products in their state and found one product containing lettuce from a Dole facility in Yuma, Arizona to be positive for the outbreak strain. As a result of these new findings, Dole is voluntarily ceasing production and initiating a new recall of various products and brands produced at both facilities. A full list of recalled products and brands are available on the FDA’s website.

“This is the second Listeria outbreak potentially linked to packaged salads that the FDA and CDC are currently investigating. On Dec. 21, we announced a separate outbreak investigation of Listeria found in Fresh Express packaged salad. The FDA will provide additional updates as we learn more about these outbreaks. In the meantime, we advise consumers to avoid all recalled products.”

Additional Information:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our state and local partners, are working to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections potentially linked with the consumption of Dole packaged salad.
  • Dole voluntarily ceased production at both its Bessemer City, North Carolina facility and Yuma, Arizona facilities and has voluntarily recalled all products and brands produced with production lot codes beginning with either the letter “N” or “Y” in the upper right-hand corner of the package and Best if Used By dates from Nov. 30, 2021 to Jan. 8, 2022. A full list of recalled products and brands are available on the FDA’s website.
  • To date, this outbreak has been associated with 16 illnesses, 12 hospitalizations and two deaths spanning the following states: IA, ID, MD, MI, MN, NC, NV, OH, OR, PA, TX, UT, WI. Illnesses started on dates ranging from Aug. 16, 2014 to Oct. 17, 2021 (one case occurred in 2014 and the remaining cases occurred between 2018 and 2021).
  • Consumers who have symptoms of listeriosis infection should contact their health care provider. Most people with listeriosis include a fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If the more severe form of listeriosis develops, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. For the very young, the elderly and the immune-compromised, listeriosis can result in death.
  • The FDA recommends that anyone who received recalled products use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
  • This is an ongoing investigation, and additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

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