Kellogg Recall of Eggo Waffle Batch Is the Latest of Listeria Concerns
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 01:56PM
The latest in a line of food recalls that involve possible contamination with listeria bacteria is a variety of the popular Eggo brand waffles manufactured by the Kellogg Co.
The company announced a voluntary recall of 10,000 cases of its Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat waffles, prompting concern over the growing list of listeria scares.
Previous product recalls related to listeria included Blue Bell ice cream, frozen vegetables and raw milk.
The bacterium at the center of these outbreaks, Listeria monocytogenes, is a stubborn pathogen that has proved difficult to head off.
Here are a few things to know about the bacterium and about the U.S. food recall process:
Which Waffles Have Been Recalled? The Kellogg Co. has voluntarily recalled 10,000 cases of Kellogg Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat waffles, according to a company statement released yesterday. The recall affects products that were distributed in 25 states. The individual boxes of 10 waffles have the UPC Code 38000 40370 and a best-if-used-by date of Nov. 21, 2017, or Nov. 22, 2017.
A full list of affected states can be found here.
Why Were They Recalled? During routine testing, Kellogg found a problem with its cleaning process, which left an opening for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria to possibly contaminate this batch of Eggo waffles. There have been no reported illnesses related to the recalled Eggo waffles, according to the company statement.
"The recall is a result of tests, which identified the potential for contamination and a gap in our sanitation process. As soon as we learned of a potential concern, we moved quickly to identify any foods that might be impacted and resolve the issue, " a spokesman for the Kellogg Co. said in a statement sent to ABC News. "This includes initiating a recall, halting production on the line in question, conducting a deep sanitary clean of the area and reviewing our cleaning and sanitation protocols with the relevant plant employees."
Bill Marler, an attorney who specializes in foodborne illness, said the news was actually a good sign about the state of the food industry.
"Companies should be encouraged to test and should [receive] a pat on the back for testing and recalling the product," he said. "That's the system working properly."
What Is Listeria? The bacterium Listeria monocytogenes can cause dangerous infections, especially in pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems. The bacterium, which is often associated with foodborne disease outbreaks, can cause fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. In severe cases, the infections can cause stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly everyone infected with the bacteria ends up with an invasive infection, meaning it moves outside the gastrointestinal tract.
The disease causes 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths every year in the U.S. according to the latest CDC statistics, from 2011.
Pregnant women are at least 10 times as likely as the general population to develop a listeria infection - and the illness has been associated with miscarriage, stillbirth and premature delivery, according to the CDC.
Identifying the source of a listeria outbreak can be notoriously difficult, since the disease can incubate up to 70 days after exposure before a person develops symptoms.
Additionally, the bacteria can continue to grow even at refrigerated temperatures. Cooking contaminated foods to recommended temperatures can kill the bacteria.
How Is a Listeria Outbreak Detected? While the recalled Eggo waffles have not been linked to any cases of listeria infection, health officials have been increasing surveillance for listeria in recent years in an effort to combat outbreaks.
Today when a person is diagnosed with a listeria infection, epidemiologists and other health experts can sequence the bacteria's whole genome - essentially creating a unique DNA fingerprint - and enter that into a federal database. If a second person is found to have the same kind of listeria infection, officials can find a match. This means a listeria outbreak can be tracked after just two people have been infected by the same source.
Kellogg Company Recalls Limited Number of Kellogg’s® Eggo® Nutri-Grain® Whole Wheat Waffles Due to potential Health RiskKellogg Company is voluntarily recalling approximately 10,000 cases of Kellogg’s® Eggo® Nutri-Grain® Whole Wheat Waffles because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No other Eggo products are impacted by this recall.
Listeria monocytogenes 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.
The company has received no reports of illness to date but is taking this action as part of its commitment to the health and safety of the people who eat its foods.
Recalled product was distributed to customers and retailers in 25 states (CO, CT, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, VT, WI, WY). The affected product is:
The recall is a result of routine tests that the company conducts which identified the potential for contamination. As soon as the company learned of a potential concern, it moved quickly to identify any foods that might be impacted and resolve the issue.
Kellogg is asking that people who purchased affected product discard it and contact the company for a full refund. Consumers can call 1-800-962-1413, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET or by visiting https://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/contact-us.html
Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Frozen Vegetables (Final Update)
- This outbreak investigation is over. However, people could continue to get sick because recalled products may still be freezers and people who don’t know about the recalls could eat them. Retailers should not sell and consumers should not eat recalled products. Read the Recall and Advice to Consumers and Retailers.
- CDC, several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis).
- Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.
- Nine people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria have been reported from four states since September 13, 2013.
- All nine people were hospitalized, and three of them died. Listeriosis was considered to be a cause of death for one person in Connecticut. For the two deaths in Maryland and Washington, listeriosis was not considered to be a cause of death.
- Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that frozen
vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington and sold
under various brand names were a likely source of illness in this
- On April 23, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods recalled 11 frozen vegetable products because of potential Listeria contamination.
- On May 2, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods expanded the initial recall to include all organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products processed in its Pasco, Washington facility since May 1, 2014. More than 350 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands were recalled, as well as at least 100 other products prepared by other companies that contained recalled ingredients from CRF Frozen Foods.
- CDC recommends that consumers do not eat, and restaurants and
retailers do not serve or sell, recalled organic and traditional frozen
vegetables and fruit products and recalled products containing these
- Recalled items were sold nationwide and in Canada.
- A complete list of recalled products is on the FoodSafety.gov website.
IntroductionCDC collaborated with public health officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis). Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.
Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may have been part of this outbreak. PulseNet, coordinated by CDC, is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories. PulseNet performs DNA fingerprinting on Listeria bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks.
A total of nine people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria were reported from four states since September 13, 2013. A list of states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page.
Listeria positive specimens were collected from September 13, 2013, to May 3, 2016. Three illnesses were reported in 2016. The remaining six illnesses reported during 2013-2015 were identified through a retrospective review of the PulseNet database. Ill people ranged in age from 56 to 91 years, with a median age of 76. Seventy-eight percent of ill people were female. All nine (100%) ill people were hospitalized, including three people who died.
Listeriosis was considered to be a cause of death for one person in Connecticut. For the two deaths in Maryland and Washington, listeriosis was not considered to be a cause of death.
The outbreak can be illustrated with a chart showing the number of people who were diagnosed each month. This chart is called an epidemic curve or epi curve.
Investigation SummaryEpidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington and sold under various brand names were a likely source of illnesses in this outbreak.
This outbreak was identified in March 2016. State and local health departments attempted to interview the ill people, a family member, or a caregiver for the ill person about the foods the ill person may have eaten in the month before the illness began. Four of nine ill people, or their caregiver, were interviewed using a questionnaire that asked about a variety of foods.
Three of these four people reported buying and eating frozen vegetables in the month before illness began and two reported Organic by Nature brand frozen vegetables. The third ill person reported eating O Organic brand frozen vegetables. Both Organic by Nature and O Organic frozen vegetables are produced by CRF Frozen Foods.
During the same time period, as part of a routine product-sampling program, the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected packages of frozen vegetable products from a retail location and isolated Listeria from True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic white sweet cut corn and from True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic petite green peas. Both products are produced by CRF Frozen Foods.
Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the Listeria isolate from the frozen corn was closely related genetically to eight bacterial isolates from ill people, and the Listeria isolate from the frozen peas was closely related genetically to one isolate from an ill person. This close genetic relationship provides additional evidence that some people in this outbreak became ill from eating frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods.
Also, FDA collected environmental samples from Oregon Potato Company, located in Pasco, Washington and isolated Listeria from these samples. WGS showed that the Listeria found in these environmental samples was closely related genetically to eight isolates from ill people in this outbreak. Based on this information, Oregon Potato Company voluntarily recalled wholesale onion products made in their facility, which led to multiple recalls of products sold at retail under many brand names that contained recalled onions.
On April 23, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods recalled 11 frozen vegetable products because they may have been contaminated with Listeria. On May 2, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods expanded the initial recall to include all organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products processed in its Pasco, Washington facility since May 1, 2014. More than 350 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands were recalled, as well as at least 100 other products from other companies that contained recalled ingredients from CRF Frozen Foods. State health departments collected recalled products from ill people in California and Idaho and isolated an outbreak strain of Listeria in these product samples.
Recalled items were sold under various brand names, nationwide and in Canada. A full list of recalled products is available on the FoodSafety.gov website. CDC recommends that consumers do not eat, and restaurants and retailers do not serve or sell, recalled organic and traditional frozen vegetables and fruit products and recalled products that contain these items.
This outbreak investigation is over. However, people could continue to get sick because recalled products may still be in freezers and people who don’t know about the recalls could eat them. Retailers should not sell and consumers should not eat recalled products. Read the Recall and Advice to Consumers and Retailers.