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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Listeria Kkot Sprout Recall

Kkot Saem Sprouts, Inc. of Spanaway, Washington is voluntarily recalling Soybean Sprouts and Mungbean Sprouts sold under brand names Kkot Saem, Winter Blossom Bean Sprouts, and Winter Blossom because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Soybean Sprouts and Mungbean Sprouts were distributed at H-Mart in Washington and Oregon, and G-Mart in Oregon and the last date of distribution was on December 16, 2014. The mungbean sprouts product has a 5-day shelf life from the packing date and soybean sprouts product has a shelf life of up to two weeks from the packing date.

RECALLED PRODUCT Brand NET WT. PACKAGE TYPE UPC
Soybean Sprouts Winter Blossom Bean Sprouts 1.5 lbs. Plastic bag, multi-colored with orange stripe on top, lower middle portion and at bottom. Orange & black English and Korean letters on white background on front of bag. 0 94922 55330 0
Soybean Sprouts un-labeled 5 lbs. Clear plastic bag with no label None
Mungbean Sprouts Kkot Saem Winter Blossom Bean Sprouts 0.8 lb Clear plastic bag with blue letters on white background.  English and Korean letters on front of bag. 1 80036 83737 2
Mungbean Sprouts Kkot Saem 2 lbs. Clear plastic bag with no label 0 94922 55334 8
Mungbean Sprouts Kkot Saem 5 lbs. Clear plastic bag with no label None
Mungbean Sprouts Winter Blossom Bean Sprouts 10 lbs. Orange and blue labeling in Korean and English on white background. 0 94922 55331 7

This recall was the result of the sample collected and analyzed by the Food and Drug Administration and it is revealed that the finished mungbean sprouts contained Listeria monocytogenes.

There have been no illnesses or deaths reported to date. This recall is being made with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Perfect Bar Salmonella Recall

After Perfect Bar’s routine product testing, the company is issuing a nationwide recall of specific lot numbers of its Peanut Butter and Cranberry Crunch flavor recipes due to potential contamination of Salmonella.

While no illnesses to date have been associated with any of the recalled products, Salmonella bacteria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Consumers with the above symptoms should consult their physician.

Perfect Bar’s recalled Peanut Butter and Cranberry Crunch products have packaging and/or wrappers with the expiration date and lot codes listed below. The recalled product has reached the distributor, retail and end user level.

BRAND FLAVOR SIZE UPC CODE EXP DATE LOT CODE
Perfect Bar Peanut Butter 2.5 oz 8-55569-00302-9 09-02-15 02814
Perfect Bar Cranberry Crunch 1.6 oz 8-55569-00311-1 09-02-15 02814
Perfect Bar Variety Pack (Costco) 1 lb 9.6 oz 8-55569-00313-5 09-02-15
09-01-15
11-24-15
02814V
02914V
03714V

Consumers who have any products associated with this recall should dispose of them immediately.

What We Know And Do Not Know About The Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak

The Ongoing Risk of Listeria:

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Illnesses as of Friday Evening:

As of Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 28 people (although the Washington State Department of Health reports 29) have been infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes from 10 states linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples.  The states reporting illnesses are:

  • Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1) and Wisconsin (2).

Twenty-six ill people have been hospitalized. Among the 26 people hospitalized, five deaths have been reported.  The States reporting deaths are:

  • Minnesota (2), California (1), Texas (1) and Missouri (1).

Listeria was a contributing factor, but not cause of the Missouri death.  I spoke this morning to family of 81-year-old woman who died of Listeria in California on December 2 after purchasing and consuming a caramel apple shortly before Halloween.  The family has been informed that she is a link to the outbreak by California health officials.  The same officials came and picked up discarded product that may be leftovers from the consumed product.  The caramel apples were purchased at Safeway in Felton, California.

Nine illnesses were pregnancy-related (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant).

Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) were among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years.

Outbreak Investigation as of Saturday Morning:

The information CDC has at this time indicates that commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples are the source of the outbreak

The most detailed information comes from the Minnesota Department of Health.  Minnesota cases purchased prepackaged caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples.  Both brands are made by H. Brooks, a 110-year old company in New Brighton. The company only sells the caramel apples in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify cases that may be part of this outbreak.  DNA “fingerprinting” is being performed on the Listeria bacteria isolated from ill persons using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS).  Two outbreak clusters were identified by the PFGE technique, and Listeria isolates within each cluster were found to be highly related by the WGS technique but distinct between the two clusters. CDC is investigating the two clusters together because one person was infected with both Listeria strains simultaneously and also because illnesses in the two clusters have occurred during a similar time period and in similar regions of the country.

Advise to Consumers from Health Officials:

Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.  If you are experiencing symptoms of listeriosis, please seek immediate medical attention.

What More Information to Expect in Coming Days:

  • Given the long incubation period – 3 to 70 days – for a Listeria infection to manifest after eating the product, it is likely that the numbers of ill will increase that they are reported by hospitals to local and state health authorities and then to the CDC.
  • It is expected that the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will announce Monday more information where the product was manufactured, shipped and sold.
  • It is also expected to hear more from the CDC on the likely point of Listeria contamination in the production of this product.

Media Coverage:

It was a busy Friday helping explain to the media the issues surrounding this unusual and tragic Listeria outbreak.

Washington Post

ABC News

Oregonian

KPIX (San Francisco)

KHQ (Spokane)

King (Seattle)

About Marler Clark:

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

CDC Warns Do Not Eat Prepackaged Caramel Apples After 5 Listeria Deaths

Listeria illnesses and deaths in Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1) and Wisconsin (2).

As of December 18, 2014, a total of 28 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 10 states.  26 ill people have been hospitalized. Among the 26 people hospitalized, five deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least four of these deaths.  Nine illnesses were pregnancy-related (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant).  Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) were among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years.

The information CDC has at this time indicates that commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may be contaminated with Listeria. Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness. In interviews, ill persons answered questions about foods consumed and other exposures in the month before becoming ill.   At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy. Although limited information is currently available about the specific brand(s) of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples consumed, the finding that most of the ill people reported consuming these apples suggests that these Listeria infections are likely related to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. Investigators are rapidly working to determine specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that may be linked to illnesses and to identify the source of contamination.

Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided. These products could have a shelf life of more than one month.

Listeria:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.