Food Safety Magazine

News | August 27, 2019

Listeria Outbreak Has No Known Source in U.S.; Likely Source Identified in Canada

By Staff

Listeria Outbreak Has No Known Source in U.S.; Likely Source Identified in Canada

A multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes illnesses has affected consumers in the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s most recent update confirms 24 illnesses and 22 hospitalizations in 13 states. Two deaths in the U.S. have also been attributed to this outbreak. In Canada, there are seven confirmed Listeria cases. Illness onset dates for both U.S. and Canadian patients date back to 2017. 

According to CDC, no specific food item, retailer, or restaurant chain has been identified as the source of this outbreak. As a result, CDC is not recommending that consumers avoid any particular food product, and restaurants and retailers are not being advised to stop serving or selling any particular item. 

Despite no specific warning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) did announce a recall of 135,810 pounds of fully cooked poultry products produced by Rockmart, GA-based Tip Top Poultry, Inc. This recall was prompted when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) notified FSIS that a sample of Tip Top Poultry’s product tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes

The outbreak, which has been genetically linked to the U.S. outbreak via whole-genome sequencing, is unfolding a bit differently in Canada, though. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is also investigating a multi-province outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes. The difference here is that in Canada, a likely source and food product has been implicated—cooked diced chicken. 

CFIA has identified three food products that have been recalled: Reuven International Ltd brand Natural Proportion Cooked Chicken Meat (Diced), Sysco brand Natural Proportions Cooked Shredded Chicken, and Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken. The meat products were distributed to retailers, hotels, restaurants, and other institutions across almost all of Canada.

CDC says they will update the public when and if a food source is identified in this outbreak.

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