CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to enoki mushrooms. The outbreak and investigation are now over.
A total of 36 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from 17 states. AZ (2), CA (9), FL (2), HI (3), IN (1), KY (1), MA (2), MD (2), MI (1), MO (1), NC (1), NJ (1), NY (4), RI (1), TN (1), VA (3), WA (1)
Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from November 23, 2016, to December 13, 2019. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 to 96 years, with a median age of 67. Fifty-eight percent of ill people were female. Of 33 ill people with information available, 31 hospitalizations were reported. Four deaths were reported from California (2), Hawaii, and New Jersey. Six cases were pregnancy-associated, with two resulting in fetal loss.
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.
Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory evidence showed that enoki mushrooms supplied by Green Co. LTD, located in the Republic of Korea, were the likely source of this outbreak. Product Distribution: CA, FL, IL, NY, MD, OR, PA, TX, VA and WA.
FDA and state officials collected enoki mushrooms for testing. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development collected enoki mushrooms from a grocery store where an ill person shopped and identified the outbreak strain in two samples. These mushrooms were labeled as “Product of Korea” and were distributed by Sun Hong Foods, Inc. On March 9, 2020, Sun Hong Foods, Inc. recalled enoki mushrooms. The California Department of Public Health collected enoki mushrooms from grocery stores and identified the outbreak strain in one sample. These mushrooms were labeled as “Product of Korea” and were distributed by Guan’s Mushroom Co. On March 23, 2020, Guan’s Mushroom Co. recalled enoki mushrooms. FDA collected samples of enoki mushrooms for testing at import from Green Co. LTD of the Republic of Korea. On April 6, 2020, results showed that two samples yielded the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes. As a result, on April 7, 2020, FDA placed Green Co. LTD on Import Alert and H&C Foods Inc. recalled enoki mushrooms supplied by Green Co. LTD.
On March 18, 2020, the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety published its investigation findings and steps it will take to prevent future illnesses. It found Listeria monocytogenes in enoki mushrooms produced by two firms in the Republic of Korea.
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 $700 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 deli meat, cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.
If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.