Updated April 17, 2023, Another brand identified. A Listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms has ended after sickening five people. Two brands of enoki mushrooms grown in China were identified as the sources of the outbreak, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Utopia brand enoki mushrooms and enoki mushrooms distributed by Sun Hong Foods Inc. and produced by Shandong Youhe Biotechnology, Co. This is the second time that enoki mushrooms distributed by Sun Hong Foods have been linked to a Listeria outbreak.
The outbreak, tied to two strains of Listeria, included five illnesses from four states, California (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (1), and Michigan (1). All of the patients were hospitalized.
Did You Get a Listeria Infection from Enoki Mushrooms ?
Was There a Recall?
Utopia Enoki Mushroom 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 outbreak or any other illnesses reported in the U.S. However, at some point after that December 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.
Sun Hong Foods Enoki Mushroom Safety Alert
On December 17, 2022, FDA issued a safety alert for enoki mushrooms sold by Sun Hong Foods Inc. of Montebello, CA, and produced by Shandong Youhe Biotechnology, Co. These mushrooms tested positive for one of the two outbreak strains.
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. Sung Hong Foods was one of three enoki mushroom suppliers linked to this outbreak.
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.