FDA is continuing to investigate three outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with packaged salads, including a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to Dole packaged leafy greens.
All three multistate outbreaks of either E. coli or listeria were reported in December 2021. Two of the outbreaks have been linked to one or more deaths, and all of the outbreaks have been associated with hospitalizations.
In addition to the outbreaks tied to leafy greens currently under investigation, FDA recently closed a probe involving E. coli and Romaine lettuce, which resulted in four illnesses.
In the multistate outbreak tied to Dole, 17 people became sick, 13 have gone to the hospital and two people have died, according to FDA.
One person fell ill in August 2014 and the other cases occurred between 2018 and 2021, FDA said. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated the outbreak in 2019 and 2020, it was unable to obtain sufficient data to immediately detect the source, FDA said. CDC, however, reopened its probe in November 2021 following reports of new illnesses.
In December 2021, Dole voluntarily recalled products and brands from its facilities in Bessemer City, N.C. and Yuma, Ariz., according to FDA. Then, on January 7, due to the continuing probes, Dole issued a voluntary recall of additional products after it identified Listeria monocytogenes on equipment used to harvest raw iceberg lettuce, FDA said.
Fresh Express, Nature’s Basket
In another one of the three multistate outbreaks tied to packaged salad, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, during routine sampling, found a sample of Fresh Express Sweet Hearts salad mix, which tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. A subsequent analysis found the Listeria monocytogenes present in the samples matched the strain that caused illnesses in the multistate outbreak. All ten people who became sick have been hospitalized and one person has died, according to FDA.
In certain outbreaks, including ten cases of E. coli linked to packaged salad currently under investigation, authorities have trouble tracing the source of the contamination.
Consumer purchase data indicates seven people purchased Nature's Basket Power Greens or Simple Truth Organic Power Greens at grocery stores before falling ill, FDA said.
The traceback probe has not identified a single production code. And FDA is continuing to assess available information to ascertain if, for example, a farm or ranch is responsible for the outbreak.
“Some challenges encountered in this traceback are those often seen in tracing back leafy greens,” FDA stated. “These include multiple consumer purchases of the same product on different days, lack of product lot codes tracked to retail stores from distribution centers, and the inability to directly link product lot codes to consumer purchase data.”