Packaged Hard-Boiled Eggs Linked to 7 Listeria Infections, Including 1 Death
CDC has linked seven listeria infections to hard-boiled eggs from Almark Foods. Keith Getter / Contributor / Moment Mobile / Getty Images
A deadly listeria outbreak has been linked to certain hard-boiled eggs sold in stores and restaurants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Wednesday evening.
“CDC is concerned that bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are contaminated with Listeria and have made people sick,” the agency warned.
OUTBREAK ALERT: 7 Listeria infections linked to hard-boiled eggs used in stores and restaurants. CDC has important advice to protect people in high risk groups. If you are pregnant, age 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system, read our advice: https://t.co/GgibpOdxuD pic.twitter.com/h1medczjmJ
— CDC (@CDCgov) December 18, 2019
Listeria is the third deadliest form of food poisoning in the U.S., CBS News reported, sickening around 1,600 a year and killing around 260. The current outbreak has sickened seven people in Florida, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas, where one person died. Four others have been hospitalized.
The eggs in question have not been recalled, but the CDC urged restaurants and other food service establishments that had ordered the eggs not to serve them.
The eggs to avoid are bulk hard-boiled eggs that were pre-peeled and packaged in plastic pails by Almark Foods. They have a 49-day shelf-life.
“It’s important to note that the product in question was shipped to food service distributors, restaurants and other wholesale outlets and does not involve eggs in packages on shelves for consumer purchase at retail stores,” Almark Foods said in a statement reported by CNN.
Because of this, it will be harder for consumers to know if they are eating eggs that could be infected with listeria. The CDC therefore urged anyone especially at risk for listeria not to eat any store-bought hard-boiled eggs or any products made with them, like egg salads.
“If you have these products at home, don’t eat them. Throw them away, regardless of where you bought them or the use-by date,” the CDC said.
After tossing the products, the CDC urged anyone at risk to sanitize the area where the products were stored. When eating out, customers should ask the restaurant where their hard-boiled eggs were sourced from and avoid ordering them if they came from Almark Foods or if the restaurant does not know their origin.
Those most at risk for listeria include pregnant people and newborns, people older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems such as those who have cancer or are on dialysis.
One newborn did become sick during the current outbreak while their mother was pregnant, but the baby survived, The New York Times reported.
This particular strain of listeria was first discovered at the Almark Foods plant in Georgia during a routine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection in February. Inspectors found the infection at the end of a conveyor belt and on a floor drain.
The agency issued Almark Foods a warning letter in July, and the company responded in August saying it had made efforts to correct the problem between March and June. But then the CDC received reports of listeria infections in August, September and November. It discovered that the strain was the same as the strain found in the plant and the same as a strain that had sickened three people in 2017.
Almark Foods stopped production at the Georgia plant this week and is now sterilizing everything, spokesman Gene Grabowski told The New York Times. The company owns another plant in North Carolina that has not been impacted.
People exposed to listeria usually feel sick one to four weeks afterwards, according to the CDC. Symptoms include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches, but pregnant people typically only experience flu-like symptoms.