Listeria -related turkey recall by Pennsylvania firm not linked to outbreak

Oct 10, 2002 (CIDRAP News) Ð A Pennsylvania company is recalling 295,000 pounds of ready-to-eat turkey and chicken because of possible Listeria contamination, but the recalled products have not been linked to the recent rash of listeriosis cases in the Northeast, federal health officials announced yesterday.

Wampler Foods Inc. of Franconia, Pa., a unit of Pilgrim's Pride Corp., is recalling fresh and frozen turkey and chicken, the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reported. "There is no link between the recalled products and Listeria monocytogenes illnesses in Northeast states," the FSIS said in its announcement. "However, FSIS is continuing its investigation."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday that Listeria was detected in a turkey product from Wampler Foods, but "the Listeria strain detected in this product is different from the strain causing the outbreak." The CDC said the outbreak as of yesterday included 44 cases involving the same strain of L monocytogenes, with 7 deaths and 3 miscarriages or stillbirths. The agency restated its belief that" precooked turkey deli meat, the kind that is sliced at the deli counter of a grocery or restaurant, is the most likely cause of this outbreak," but it did not list a source.

The turkey and chicken products in the recall were produced Aug 14 and distributed to retail stores, delicatessens, and foodservice suppliers nationwide, Pilgrim's Pride reported in a news release yesterday. All the products bear the establishment code "P-1351" inside the USDA seal of inspection. "To date, Wampler Foods has received no reports of illnesses associated with the consumption of the products covered by this recall," the company said.

The FSIS said L monocytogenes was found in a sample that was collected at the Wampler Foods plant Oct 2 as part of the outbreak investigation. FSIS spokesman Steven Cohen in Washington, DC, told CIDRAP News that the agency has tested about 400 food samples in its outbreak investigation, and the package from Wampler Foods was the first to be positive for Listeria. But the strain found in the meat didn't match what the CDC has identified as the outbreak strain, he said.

The CDC said the listeriosis outbreak has reached eight states, with 14 patients in Pennsylvania, 17 in New York, 4 in New Jersey, 4 in Delaware, 2 in Maryland, and 1 each in Connecticut, Michigan, and Massachusetts. Fourteen patients were older than 64, and 7 were pregnant. Of the seven patients who died, six had immunocompromising conditions and one was a newborn. The latest patient became sick Sep 30.

FSIS officials said a total of more than 120 illnesses and 20 deaths have been attributed to listeriosis in the eight states in recent weeks. The CDC said L monocytogenes strains in more than 50 patients differed from the outbreak strain and are part of the usual background of sporadic listeriosis cases caused by a variety of foods. Isolates from some patients are still being tested and may turn out to match the outbreak strain, the agency said.

The FSIS and Pilgrim's Pride issued a long list of package descriptions and label information for products included in the recall. The company advised consumers to return products to the purchase point for a refund and said consumers with questions about the recall can call the company's toll-free hotline at 877-260-7110.

See also:

Oct 9 FSIS news release

Oct 9 CDC release on listeriosis outbreak

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