Listeriosis outbreak linked to dole salad products

Pritzker Olsen, P.A., America’s most experienced Listeria law firm is currently investigating a Listeria outbreak involving twelve people, one of whom was a Michigan resident and died. On January 22, 2016, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the Listeria outbreak is linked to pre-packaged salads produced by Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. at its facility in Springfield, Ohio.

The twelve victims reportedly belong to six different states – Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. CDC established a link between Dole salad and the illnesses caused in January 2016 when a Listeria isolate from a Dole brand Field Greens packaged salad manufactured at Springfield facility was seen to be highly related to isolates from ill people.

Consequently, on January 22, 2016, Dole announced its temporary suspension of operations at the Springfield facility and is voluntarily withdrawing all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads from the markets that were processed at that facility. It has also stated that no other facilities have been affected with Listeria.

The products being withdrawn bear a product code beginning with letter “A” in the upper right corner of the package. The withdrawn products belong to brands such as Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, the Little Salad Bar, and President’s Choice. The other Dole products are not a part of the withdrawal drive.

A similar incident[1] occurred in March 2015 with Blue Bells Creameries in their samples of single serving chocolate chip country cookie sandwich and the great divide bar ice cream products collected from their Brenham’s facility. The samples had traces of Listeria monocytogenes. Blue Bell Creameries initially removed the affected ice cream products from the market and then also shut down the production line where the products were made. Later in April 2015, Blue Bells voluntarily suspended its operations at its Broken Arrow, Oklahoma plant [See Blue Bell Creameries, LP, Broken Arrow, OK 483 Issued 04/23/15].[2] Upon information, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quickly investigated into the matters and issued its findings to Blue Bells so as to prevent any additional people from falling ill.

Later from May 14, 2015, Blue Bell Creameries announced that it has entered into voluntary agreements with the various state departments of State Health Services and outlined a series of steps and actions in getting its ice cream products back to market. The actions would include rigorous facility cleaning and sanitizing, revised testing protocols, revised production policies and procedures designed to prevent future contamination, and upgraded employee training initiatives.[3]

On June 10, 2015, FDA released its information on inspection conducted on Blue Bells Creameries’ facilities including the laboratory results for the environmental and product samples collected by it during inspections of various production facilities in 2015.[4]

Finally, Fred Pritzker, a lawyer representing people sickened by Listeria, is of the view that the outbreak would represent a possible failure of Dole’s food safety systems if the link to Dole proves to be correct. Also, federal laws on the same are very clear in maintaining that presence of a single Listeria organism in a food product amounts to food adulteration.

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