Listeria Outbreak: Enoki Mushrooms Recalled After Deaths

Enoki Mushrooms

CDC Enoki mushrooms in a CDC photo.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a food safety alert on March 10 about a listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms. They said that there are already 36 reported cases in a total of 17 different states. There have been 30 hospitalizations and a total of four deaths so far.

A product has been recalled in combination with this outbreak. On March 9, Sun Hong Foods recalled their enoki mushrooms because they believed they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, the bacteria that causes listeria.

Enoki mushrooms have long, thin stems and tiny caps and are all white. The enoki mushrooms sold by Sun Hong Foods are sold in a clear plastic package, with a green label, as pictured in the image at the top of this post. Stores that may carry that brand include: (Asian Supermarket), J&L Supermarket, Jusgo Supermarket, ZTao Market, New Sang Supermarket, Galleria Market. For full details on the product in question, people are encouraged to check the official FDA page.

The 36 Reported Illnesses Started in November 2016 Until the Last Reported Case in December 2019

The 36 people who were infected with this listeria outbreak strain were reported in over 17 different states in the past four years. The first case was reported on November 23, 2016 and the latest one was on December 13, 2019. The CDC also mentioned that “Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.”

In total, there have been 30 hospitalizations to date and four deaths, in California, Hawaii and New Jersey. There have also been six cases associated with pregnant women, including two which “resulted in fetal loss,” the CDC reported.

There is an ongoing investigation to determine the source of the contamination and if there are multiple products involved. So far, the evidence the CDC has suggested that those specific enoki mushrooms are the most likely source of the outbreak.

What Is a Listeria Outbreak & What Are the Symptoms?

A listeria infection, also known as listeriosis, can lead to different symptoms based on the person and the part of their body most affected. There is also usually a difference in symptoms between pregnant women and other people, the CDC explains. Pregnant women will typically experience “only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches,” but infection can also lead to many serious issues around the pregnancy, like “miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.”

For people who aren’t pregnant, symptoms can typically include: “headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.” People who are typically at a higher risk of a listeria infection are pregnant women, adults over 65 years old and people with weaker immune systems, like individuals with cancer or on dialysis.

The CDC also says that the symptoms for listeria will usually appear 1 to 4 weeks after eating contaminated food. Symptoms have also been reported as many as 70 days after exposure to the bacteria and as early as the same day. Listeria is treatable with antibiotics.

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