The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in the midst of an active investigation into two separate listeria outbreaks connected to packaged salads by Dole and Fresh Express. So far, there have been two recorded deaths, 13 hospitalizations, and 17 illnesses across 13 U.S. states, according to the CDC. These salads have been available for purchase under a number of brand names, including Ahold, Dole, HEB, Kroger, Lidl, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, Naturally Better, Nature’s Promise, President’s Choice, and Simply Nature. The specific salads and ingredients range from mixed greens to garden salads and Caesar salad kits. This is not the first time Dole has been connected with a listeria outbreak. Last October, Dole recalled a number of bagged salads due to the risk of listeria contamination.
If you are concerned about whether you might have purchased one of these products (available in either bags or clamshells) it might help to note that the listed use by date can be anywhere from 11/30/21 to 01/09/22 and the product code will begin with B, N, W, or Y.
If you have purchased one of these specified products, discard them or return them to the store of purchase for a refund. As listeria can easily spread, if the product was opened, thoroughly sanitize any surface or ingredient that came into contact with it. The CDC has put together a helpful five-step guide to properly deep cleaning your refrigerator, you will just need to ensure you have sealed bags, hot, soapy water, clean towels, and if you like, bleach. It can be a lengthy process, but it is worth it to ensure the safety of your household.
Listeria can be mild in individuals who are healthy, with symptoms being similar to food poisoning, so fever, stomach pain, and diarrhea, according to the CDC. Sometimes, symptoms can develop up to four weeks after consuming the contaminated food. However, it is important to note that symptoms can be far more severe when it comes to vulnerable individuals, including pregnant people, newborns, adults over the age of 65, and immunocompromised individuals. These groups can be more likely to face a more advanced and invasive kind of listeriosis, which can be a life-threatening form of the infection that moves on from the digestive system to other parts of the body, including the joints or bloodstream. This can lead to further illness, severe complications, and even be fatal, as we have seen with these two recent deaths.