FDA closes investigation into outbreak traced to packaged salads; continues work on other outbreaks

The FDA has officially closed its investigation into an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to Fresh Express packaged salads.

The announcement of the investigation’s end follows a declaration by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the outbreak had ended as of March 8. Ten people from eight states were confirmed as outbreak patients. All 10 required hospitalization and one died.

The Food and Drug Administration worked on the outbreak identification and product tracing after routine sampling by the the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Fresh Express Sweet Hearts salad mix with a Use-By-Date of December 8, 2021. The sample tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes and subsequent whole genome sequencing analysis determined that the Listeria monocytogenes present in the samples matched the strain that caused illnesses in the outbreak.

In response to the sample results and the ongoing outbreak investigation, Fresh Express voluntarily ceased production at its Streamwood, IL, facility and initiated a recall of certain varieties of its branded and private label salad products produced there.

In other outbreak news, the FDA reports it is continuing to investigate a cluster of reports of “adverse reactions” from an unnamed product.

The agency also has ongoing outbreak investigations into an outbreak of norovirus infections traced to raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada; an outbreak of Listeria infections from an unknown source; and an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul infections from an unknown source. The FDA is also continuing to investigate an outbreak of cronobacter infections linked to infant formula made by Abbott Nutrition that has sickened four babies with two deaths under investigation.

The table below shows information about outbreak investigations being managed by FDA’s CORE Response Teams. The investigations are in a variety of stages. Some outbreaks have limited information with active investigations ongoing, others may be near completion. The table below has been abbreviated to show only active investigations.

The Food and Drug Administration will issue public health advisories for outbreak investigations that result in “specific, actionable steps for consumers — such as throwing out or avoiding specific foods — to take to protect themselves,” according to the outbreak table page.

Not all recalls and alerts result in an outbreak of foodborne illness. Not all outbreaks result in recalls.

Outbreak investigations that do not result in specific, actionable steps for consumers may or may not conclusively identify a source or reveal any contributing factors, according to CORE’s outbreak table page. If a source(s) and/or contributing factors are identified that could inform future prevention, FDA commits to providing a summary of those findings, according to CORE officials.

Click here to visit the FDA page that has a complete list of outbreak investigations and links to outbreak information.

Click on table to enlarge. Use link above to go to FDA page with links to specific outbreak information.

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