New Jersey firm expands Listeria -related recall to 4.2 million pounds

Editor's note: This story was revised Nov 22 with additional information from federal agriculture and health officials.

Nov 21, 2002 (CIDRAP News) – A New Jersey company that recalled 200,000 pounds of poultry products Nov 2 has expanded the recall to 4.2 million pounds because a product sample collected Nov 14 was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week.

J. L. Foods Co., Camden, N.J., is recalling fresh and frozen ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products that were produced between May 29 and Nov 2, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said. The products were distributed to retail stores and institutions nationwide.

The contaminated sample was tested in the continuing investigation of a listeriosis outbreak that has caused 53 illnesses, eight of them fatal, in nine states. The sample was produced Aug 30, according to FSIS spokesman Steve Cohen. He said a turkey breast that had been sold at a store in Brooklyn, N.Y., tested positive for Listeria, but because the package had been opened, the contamination might not have come from the plant. So investigators located and tested an unopened package from the same production lot, and that one also tested positive, leading to the expanded recall, Cohen said.

As of Nov 22, the latest sample was still being tested to determine if the L monocytogenes in it matched the outbreak strain, Cohen said. The contamination that triggered the original recall did match the strain that federal health officials identified in the outbreak. The earlier recall covered products produced from Jun 27 through Jul 3.

J. L. Foods had suspended production after the earlier recall, but the plant reopened Nov 14 after the FSIS inspected and approved its food safety measures. The plant remained open this week, Cohen said. "All the sanitation work came after November 2, and this [contaminated sample] was produced in August," he said. "They're doing environmental testing and sharing the results with us."

Products subject to the recall bear the establishment code "EST. P-4340" inside the USDA seal of inspection, the FSIS said. Consumers with questions about the recall can call Kenneth Martin, general manager of J. L. Foods, at 800-881-3250.

The Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) announced Nov 21 that the listeriosis outbreak had increased to 53 cases with eight deaths, up from 52 cases and seven deaths as of Nov 15.

The recent listeriosis outbreak also led to a record-breaking 27 milllion–pound recall of ready-to-eat poultry products by Wampler Foods of Franconia, Pa., in October. Listeria that matched the outbreak strain was found in two samples from surfaces in the plant, but the outbreak strain was not found in any products produced there.

See also:

FSIS Nov 20 news release, with link to product list for the expanded recall
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Oa/recalls/prelease/pr098-2002.htm

CDC Nov 21 news release on listeriosis outbreak
http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/r021121.htm

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