United States East Coast Struck By Listeria Outbreak At Whole Foods, Mass Recall Of Chicken Salads and Pasta Dishes, Cheese Contamination Fatal

Sample tests of curried chicken salad and deli pasta salads sold at Whole Foods stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey stores have been found to be contaminated with Listeria.

Listeria can cause Listeriosis, a bacteria which invades and replicates in human cells. Some people experience no symptoms when exposed, but others can experience such symptoms as fevers, muscle ache, nausea, diarrhea.

More serious side effects can occur in vulnerable people, such as meningitis, mental changes, brain abscesses and necrosis, i.e. death. Those who should be most concerned are pregnant women, who, when exposed, can experience miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and/or a potentially fatal infection after birth. Other vulnerable people are those older than 65, those who have AIDS, are undergoing chemotherapy, have diabetes or kidney disease, or take medication to block rejection of organ transplant.

While Foods Recall Vulnerable people are especially affected by Listeria and should immediately check to see if they have consumed any of the products listed here. [Image via FDA / US Government]Curry Chicken This image, released by the US FDA shows one of the products affected by the recent Listeria outbreak at While Foods. [Image via FDA / US Government]If you or anyone you know have shopped at Whole Foods over the last week, and fall into one of the vulnerable categories above, then it is important to see your doctor, especially if you have bought any of the products listed below. Here is a timeline of recent foods which have been affected by the current health scare.

October 7, 2015 – Whole Foods recalled cheese sold in all stores nationwide due to positive tests for Listeria.

“The recalled cheese was cut and packaged in clear plastic wrap and sold with While Foods Market scale labels.”

This was a voluntary recall by Whole Foods after the FDA found Listeria Monocytogenes in an uncut wheel of cheese. The cheese affected has a PLU code of 029536. This recall applies to all sell by dates with this PLU code. No one has reported symptoms from the cheese, but if anyone does experience symptoms — however minor — they should be reported to the following phone number: 512-477-5566 ext. 20060, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.

October 23, 2015 – The most recent Listeria outbreak.

“The salads were sold prepackaged, in salad bars, in store’s chef’s cases and in sandwiches and wraps prepared in the stores.”

One should be particularly concerned if having bought these products between October 18 and October 22, 2015 and have a “sell by” date of October 23, 2015.

The outbreak should not just be seen as contained within Whole Foods. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a warning that the multi-state outbreak of Listeriosis is linked to soft cheeses distributed by Karoun Dairies, Inc. The final update of the CDC issues the following guidance. The investigation is over, but it is likely that affected cheeses are still in homes, restaurants, and/or retail locations.

Cheeses which are affected are Ackawi, California, Cotija, Farmers Goat Fresh, Fresco, Fresh Cheese/Panela, Feta, Goat Milk Feta, Mozzarella, Paneer, Queso Blanco, String Cheese, Ani, Nabulsi and Yanni Grilling. Anyone who has bought these cheeses in the last week should do the following:

  • Throw the cheese away in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people and animals from eating it.
  • Wash the refrigerator drawer and other areas where the cheeses were stored with hot water and soap.
  • Wash cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store cheeses. If possible, use a dishwasher; otherwise, use hot water and soap, followed by sanitizing with a solution of one tablespoon chlorine bleach added to one gallon of hot water.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap after cleaning up.

In addition, if you have eaten this cheese in the affected states listed above, then you need to consider whether you are experiencing any of the associated symptoms. If not, then there is probably nothing to worry about. However, at-risk groups, or anyone experiencing symptoms, should seek medical care and let a health care professional know what you have eaten and where it was purchased. Symptoms can manifest anywhere from two days to two months after eating the contaminated product(s).

The most at risk groups are pregnant women, adults 65 and older and those with weakened immune systems.

[Image by Spencer Platt / Getty Images]