Outbreak of Listeria Infections Linked to Hard-boiled Eggs
Posted March 4, 2020 at 3:00 PM ET
This outbreak investigation is over, but recalled hard-boiled egg products could still be in refrigerators. If you have these products at home, don’t eat them. Visit the FDA websiteexternal icon for a full list of recalled products.
CDC, several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia.
- Do not eat, sell, or serve any recalled hard-boiled egg products.
- The recalled hard-boiled egg products had “Best If Used By” dates through March 2, 2020. The recalled products are past their shelf life and should not be available for sale.
- Check your refrigerator for the recalled products. If you have them, do not eat, sell, or serve them. Throw them away.
- Restaurants and retailers should check storage coolers for the recalled product. Do not sell or serve recalled products.
- Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with the hard-boiled eggs or their packaging.
- Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator at home.
- FDA recommends that food processors, restaurants, and retailers who received Almark Foods bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs, use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces that may have come in contact with these products, to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
- Protect yourself and your customers from Listeria.
- As of March 4, 2020, this outbreak appears to be over.
- Eight people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from five states.
- Five hospitalizations were reported. One death was reported from Texas.
- Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that hard-boiled eggs from Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, were the likely source of this outbreak.
- On December 23, 2019, Almark Foods recalledexternal icon all hard-boiled eggs produced at its Gainesville, Georgia, facility due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.
- This recall included products sold under more than 30 brand names for foodservice use and for direct sale to consumers in stores.
- A full list of recalled products is available on the FDA websiteexternal icon.
- Listeriosis can cause different symptoms, depending on the person and the part of the body affected.
- Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
- People other than pregnant women: Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
- Symptoms for invasive listeriosis usually start 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria. Some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.
- Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.
March 4, 2020
CDC, several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)external icon investigated a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to hard-boiled eggs.
Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that were part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Listeria bacteria isolated from ill people by using a standardized laboratory and data analysis method called whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these sequences that are used to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives investigators detailed information about the bacteria causing illness. In this investigation, WGS showed that bacteria isolated from ill people were closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak were likely to share a common source of infection.
A total of eight people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from five states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.
Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from April 10, 2017, to December 7, 2019. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 to 82 years, with a median age of 71. Sixty-two percent of ill people were male. Of seven ill people with information available, five hospitalizations were reported. One death was reported from Texas. One illness was reported in a newborn who was infected with Listeria while the mother was pregnant, but the newborn survived.
Investigation of the Outbreak
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that hard-boiled eggs produced at the Almark Foods Gainesville, Georgia, processing facility were the likely source of this outbreak.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the month before they became ill. Of the six people for whom information was available, five (83%) reported eating products containing eggs. Five of these people reported eating hard-boiled eggs sold in packages, in prepared salads sold in stores, and in salads at restaurants.
FDA found Listeria bacteria in an environmental sample taken at the Almark Foods Gainesville, Georgia, processing facility during an FDA inspection conducted in December 2019. WGS showed that the bacteria in the environmental sample was closely related genetically to bacteria from ill people.
On December 23, 2019, Almark Foods recalledexternal icon all hard-boiled and peeled eggs in pails produced at its Gainesville, Georgia, facility. Retail products were sold under many brand names. Visit the FDA website for a full list of recalled productsexternal icon. Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell recalled hard-boiled egg products. Consumers who have any recalled egg products in their homes should not eat them and throw them away.
As of March 4, 2020, this outbreak appears to be over.