Delaware has confirmed one case of Listeria associated with a multistate outbreak of infections linked to recalled Tyson Foods ready-to-eat chicken products. Two other cases are confirmed in Texas. The Delaware case occurred in Delaware, and was not from food bought at a grocery store, said Mary Fenimore, spokeswoman for the Division of Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Food Safety Alert July 3 after an epidemiological investigation identified three listeriosis illnesses, including one death, between April 6 and June 5. The death occurred in Texas. This outbreak may be much larger than the current number of known patients. The products recalled were served all over the country. In addition, some people who contract Listeria infections do not seek medical care and recover on their own, so they are not tested.
DPH has begun notifying any known facilities that received these products to ensure they are aware of the CDC recall, as well as notifying institutional settings in general. They have been instructed to not serve, and to discard, the impacted products.
The frozen, fully cooked chicken products were produced between Dec. 26, 2020, and April 13, 2021. The products subject to recall are listed on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2021-07/Tyson%27s%20Product%20List%20Final.pdf. Labels can be seen here.
The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. P-7089” on the product bag or inside the USDA mark of inspection. Products include frozen, fully cooked chicken strips, diced chicken, chicken wing sections, and fully cooked pizza with chicken, and were sold under many brands including Tyson, Jet’s Pizza, Casey’s General Store, Marco’s Pizza, and Little Caesars.
These items were shipped nationwide to retailers and institutions including hospitals, nursing facilities, restaurants, schools, and Department of Defense locations. There is also concern that some products may be in both consumer and institutional freezers.
Listeria can cause severe illness known as invasive listeriosis when the bacteria spread beyond the gut to other parts of the body. Pregnant people, adults 65 years or older, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness.
Consumers who have the product in their freezers should also either throw the product away or return it to the place of purchase. Listeria monocytogenes is a hardy organism that can withstand a wide range of conditions including freezing, drying, heat, and relatively high levels of acid, salinity and alcohol. Unlike most foodborne pathogens, it can grow at standard refrigerator temperature of 40°F, which makes it a particular problem in ready-to-eat foods that are not cooked before eating.
Symptoms of severe illness usually start one to four weeks after contaminated food is eaten. However, symptoms can start as late as 10 weeks after. They can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches. Listeria can also cause common food poisoning symptoms, like diarrhea and fever. People who experience these symptoms usually recover without treatment.
Pregnant people usually experience only fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, Listeria can cause pregnancy loss or premature birth. It can also cause serious illness or death in newborns.
Anyone who has symptoms after eating the recalled product should contact their healthcare provider right away.
Final results linking individual cases of Listeria to the outbreak take approximately two to four weeks to be reported to the states, so additional Delaware cases could be linked to this outbreak through genetic sequencing.
Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or email questions to MPHotline@usda.gov.
Tyson also has a hotline that consumers can call or text, 1-855-382-3101. Customer service representatives will be available from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday, July 9.