Listeria outbreaks are often linked to soft cheeses and raw milk products. But outbreaks linked to pasteurized dairy products are less common in North America. That’s why a new report about a previously undisclosed Listeria outbreak linked to chocolate milk is noteworthy.
The report by Canadian researchers analyzes a 2015-2016 outbreak that sickened 34 people in Canada. It appears in the latest edition of Emerging Infectious Disease, a publication by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Listeria is a bacteria that can cause serious illness and death. Roughly 90 percent of listeriosis cases require hospitalization and about 20 are fatal. Some people, including pregnant women, seniors, small children and people with compromised immune systems, are at elevated risk for these infections. Among pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and infection of newborns.
In the chocolate milk outbreak, all but two of the case-patients, who ranged in age from less than 1 year old to 90 years old, required hospitalization. Four people died.
Health officials eventually identified a common brand of chocolate milk as the source of the outbreak. But making the connection was a challenge because of a common packaging technique. In Canada, milk is frequently sold in unmarked plastic bags placed within packaging that contains the brand name. If the outer packaging is removed and discarded, so is the only product identification. Researchers said the outbreak shows that one way to improve food safety would be to label inner and outer layers of packaging. In addition to milk in Canada, this could also apply to foods such as ground beef and hamburger patties in the U.S., they said.
Listeria Outbreaks Linked to Dairy Products
Between 2011 and 2018, the CDC announced 15 multistate Listeria outbreaks. Eight of them were linked to dairy products. The Listeria lawyers at Pritzker Hageman, who have represented clients in these outbreaks, have summarized them below.
2017 Vulto Creamery Raw Milk Cheese Listeria Outbreak
A newborn baby was among the eight people who were part of a four-state Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to soft raw milk cheeses from Vulto Creamery of Walton, New Yor. All eight were hospitalized, two of them died. Five of the case-patients, who ranged in age from less than one year old to 89 years old, were New York residents. Connecticut, Florida and Vermont reported one case each.
2016 Miller’s Organic Farm Raw Milk Listeria Outbreak
Listeria in raw milk produced by Miller’s Organic Farm in Pennsylvania sickened two people in two states killing one of them. The case-patients, who lived in California and Florida, were 73 to 81 years old.
2015 Karoun Dairies Soft Cheeses Listeria Outbreak
The Listeria outbreak linked to soft cheeses produced by Karoun Dairies Inc. of San Fernando, California sickened 30 people, killing three of them and causing one miscarriage.
2015 Blue Bell Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak
A Listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell Creameries ice cream sickened at least 10 people in four states, killing three. Pritzker Hageman Listeria lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man who suffered brain damage after developing Listeria meningitis from the tainted ice cream.
2014 Listeria Outbreak Linked to Dairy Products Produced by Roos Foods
Dairy products produced by Roos Foods were the source of a 2014 Listeria outbreak that sickened eight people in two states, killing one of them.
2014 Listeria Outbreak Linked to Oasis Brand Cheeses
A 2014 Listeria outbreak linked to Oasis brand cheeses sickened five people in four states killing one of them. One of the illnesses was diagnosed in a newborn baby. Cases were reported from Georgia, New York, Tennessee, and Texas. The fatality occurred in Tennessee, the only state to report two cases.
2013 Crave Brothers Cheese Listeria Outbreak
In 2013, Listeria monocytogenes in Crave Brothers cheese sickened six people in five states killing one of them and causing one miscarriage. The fatality was reported in Minnesota where one other case also occurred. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Texas reported one case each.
2012 Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese
A 2012 Listeria outbreak linked to Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese sickened 22 people in 14 states, killing four of them. Pritzker Hageman Listeria lawyers filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods and Forever Cheese on behalf of a client who developed listeriosis after eating the contaminated cheese.