A multistate listeria outbreak may have been linked to packaged salad produced at a suburban Chicago facility, which is now recalling products in several states, according to both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. regulators said 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of listeria have been reported in eight states — Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. All 10 infections resulted in hospitalizations, with one reported death.
The illnesses started on dates ranging from July 26, 2016 to Oct. 19, 2021, according to the CDC and FDA.
“To date, a positive sample of Fresh Express Sweet Hearts salad mix has been reported to match the outbreak strain," the recall states. "Fresh Express has voluntarily recalled products and consumers are advised not to eat, sell or serve any recalled products. Our investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to communicate should additional products be implicated."
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A sample of Fresh Express prepackaged romaine and sweet butter lettuce tested positive during sampling and matched the outbreak strain, authorities said. Fresh Express said it has stopped production at its Streamwood, Illinois, facility and issued a recall of certain salad products produced from that facility.
The recall includes all use-by dates of fresh salad items with product codes Z324 through Z350 (full list of recalled products here). The products were sold in nearly 20 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri.
Fresh Express said it has stopped production at the Streamwood, Illinois, facility where the bag was packaged and issued a recall of certain salad products produced at that location. The recalled packaged salads were also sold under the brands Bowl and Basket, Giant Eagle, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, O Organics, Signature Farms, Simply Nature, Weis Fresh From the Field and Wellsley Farms Organic.
“We will continue to work with our partners and with Fresh Express to determine the source of this outbreak," the CDC and FDA said in a joint statement. "We remain committed to transparency and providing updates as we learn more during our continuing traceback investigation.”
Anyone with symptoms of listeriosis infection - which include fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea - are urged to contact their doctor. More severe cases could include symptoms like headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. In some immunocompromised, young or elderly people, it can even result in death.
According to the recall, consumers can obtain a refund or get more information by calling the Fresh Express Consumer Response Center at (800) 242-5472 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT. Refunds are also available where purchased, officials said.