Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. has announced it is suspending all production at its Springfield, Ohio facility following an intense investigation led by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The investigation linked its products to at least 12 Listeria illnesses, including one fatality. The investigation has been ongoing since September of 2015. Dole is also responding to the FDA and CDC findings by issuing a recall of Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at its Springfield facility. Dole has identified the recalled products as having a product code beginning with the letter “A,” and said those products beginning with letters “B” or “N” are not subject to recall.
The investigation, which is in its fifth month, relied upon data uploaded into PulseNet, the national registry of food borne pathogens, to identify victims in this outbreak and trace their illnesses to a common source. The data in PulseNet reflects DNA “fingerprinting” of samples of the Listeria bacteria isolated from victims – the data come from victims cerebral spinal fluid, blood or stool cultures which are subjected to advanced pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing. So far, there are a dozen genetic matches in this outbreak and each of these victims are believed to have been exposed to Dole salad mixes.
The 12 Listeria victims became ill at various times since July 5, 2015, and are residents of Indiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (4), New Jersey (1), New York (4), and Pennsylvania (1). The first Listeria culture was identified on July 5, 2015 and the last, so far, on December 23, 2015. The victims are of all ages, from 3 to 83, but the median is 66. All the victims have been hospitalized, one has died (in Michigan), and one was pregnant when she contracted listeriosis.
The Investigation of the Outbreak
According to the CDC, interviews with victims identified at least five individuals who recalled eating bagged salad, with 2 of them naming Dole as the particular brand. This led investigators to look closely at Dole, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture sampled unopened bags of the salad from a retail location in Ohio. It was positive for the outbreak strain of the Listeria bacteria. With this new evidence, gathered in January of 2016, the CDC confirmed that it had enough trace-back, epidemiologic, and laboratory evidence to point to the Dole Springfield processing facility in Ohio, from which Dole sells its own brand of salads and a number of other brand names, as to source of the outbreak.
On January 21, 2016, Dole ceased all production and made the announcement that it was recalling packaged salads currently on the market. For more information about the Dole Fresh Vegetables Salad Recalled in Deadly Listeria Outbreak or any other outbreak, call the food poisoning lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates at 1-888-335-4901.