The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating a mystery Listeria outbreak that has sickened at least 20 people. The agency has started a traceback investigation which means that during interviews with patients a common food source was identified and the FDA is tracing back the route the food traveled to the point of purchase.
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Listeria Causes Serious Illness and Death
Of the three most well-known foodborne pathogens, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella, Listeria causes the fewest number of illnesses but has the highest death rate. About 1,600 cases of listeriosis are reported in the U.S. each year compared with 1.35 million Salmonella infections. One-fifth of Listeria infections are fatal. Listeria also differs from E. coli and Salmonella in that it thrives in cold temperatures that slow the growth of other bacteria.
Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than the general population to contract listeriosis, 24 times more likely if the expectant mother is Hispanic. Among pregnant women, Listeria infections can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and infection of newborns, even if the expectant mother shows no signs of illness.
Symptoms of a Listeria infection include severe headache, stiff neck, fever, other muscle stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. These symptoms usually develop within two weeks of eating contaminated food but can sometimes take as long as 70 days to develop.
What Foods are Commonly Associated with Listeria?
Listeria is commonly associated with dairy products especially soft cheeses, deli meat, smoked fish, and pâtés. In 2021, Listeria recalls have been issued for sprouts, frozen lobster, bagged kale, cheddar cheese, smoked fish, seasonings, salad greens, cooked chicken, smoked fish dip, queso and cream cheese dip, enoki mushrooms, ice cream, prepackaged sandwiches, taco dip, queso fresco, and pre-cut butternut squash.
Experienced Listeria Lawyers
If you developed a Listeria infection and would like to discuss your legal options, please contact our Listeria lawyers. Our Food Safety Team has more experience handling Listeria lawsuits than any other law firm in the country securing some of the largest Listeria settlements in U.S. history including a recent award of $6.4 million for neurologic injury from a contaminated deli product.
UPDATE: This post was updated October 8, 2021, to include sprouts as one of the food products that have been recalled for Listeria this year.