Updated January 18, 2023, Third patient, second strain identified. Utopia brand enoki mushrooms are the source of a Listeria outbreak that includes serious illnesses, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The outbreak, now tied to two strains of Listeria identified in contaminated mushrooms, includes three illnesses from three states, California, Nevada, and Michigan. Two of the patients are males ages 30 and 42. The third patient is a 56-year-old woman. All of the patients were hospitalized.
Did You Get a Listeria Infection from Enoki Mushrooms ?
In interviews with health officials, the male patients said they ate restaurant food containing enoki mushrooms before they became ill. Their samples were collected and submitted for testing on October 5 and October 8, 2022. The female patient did not report eating enoki mushrooms but said she shopped at various Asian grocery stores. She became ill on October 3, 2022.
Is There a Recall?
Yes, an enoki mushroom Listeria recall has been issued in connection with this outbreak. On December 13, 2022, Utopia Foods Inc. of Glendale, NY, issued a recall for 200g packages of enoki mushrooms imported from China. At that time, the mushrooms were supposed to be removed from commerce but it appears that was not the case. Because on January 13, 2023, the recall had to be expanded to include 200g packages with “best before” dates of 03/02/2023 or 03.09.23 that were distributed between January 6 and January 13, 2023.
The Listeria strain found in December did not match the strain that was cultured from any of the patients in this outbeak or any other illnesses reported in the U.S. However, at some point after that Deecmber recall, the FDA found both outbreak strains of Listeria in a sample of Utopia Foods brand enoki mushrooms collected at import, whole genome sequencing (WGS) test results revealed. .
2020 Enoki Mushroom Listeria Outbreak
In 2020, a Listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms imported from Korea sickened 36 people, four of whom died. Thirty-one people were hospitalized. Six of the patients were pregnant women, two of whom suffered miscarriages.
After the deadly 2020 outbreak, the FDA stepped up its testing of enoki mushrooms imported from Korea. For the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2021, 43 percent of the enoki mushrooms sampled from the Republic of Korea, were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
From March 2020 through May 2022, health officials from various states increased testing of enoki mushrooms purchased at retail stores. This led to 21 recalls for Listeria contamination. Nine of those were for enoki mushrooms grown in the Republic of Korea. During that same period, 31 of 93 samples analyzed by the FDA were contaminated. Of the 29 Korean companies that shipped enoki mushrooms, 12 had shipped contaminated products.
Based on those findings, the FDA issued a country-wide ban on enoki mushrooms from Korea. In the import alert issued on July 1, 2022, the FDA said, “enoki mushrooms imported from the Republic of Korea appear to be adulterated under section 801(a)(3) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act), because they appear to contain Listeria monocytogenes, an added poisonous or deleterious substance that may render food injurious to health within the meaning of section 402(a)(1) of the FD&C Act.”
Experienced Listeria Lawyers
If you were sickened in this outbreak and would like a free consultation about a Listeria lawsuit, 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.