Texas Listeria outbreak prompts produce recall

Oct 21, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Texas authorities have ordered a San Antonio produce company to suspend business and recall all products shipped since January in connection with a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak involving 10 cases, 5 of them fatal.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) said yesterday it issued the order to Sangar Fresh Cut Produce after tests found Listeria in chopped celery from the company, which distributes produce mainly to restaurants and institutions. The products are not believed to be sold in grocery stores, the agency said in a press release.

The product testing was done as part of a DSHS investigation of 10 listeriosis cases, including 5 deaths, reported to the DSHS over an 8-month period. "Six of the 10 cases have been linked to chopped celery from the Sangar plant," the agency said. All the cases, which occurred in Bexar, Travis, and Hidalgo counties, were in people with serious underlying health problems.

DSHS inspectors found sanitation problems at the Sangar plant and believe the Listeria found in the celery might have contaminated other food produced there, the agency said. The inspectors found condensation above a food product area, soil on a preparation table, and hand-washing lapses.

DSHS officials were contacting distributors, restaurants, and institutions believed to have received the recalled products to make sure they were taking appropriate action, the agency said. Customers are advised to discard or return the products.

The agency noted that finding a Listeria source is often difficult because of the small number of cases, the illness's long incubation period, and the difficulty of collecting complete information about what people ate.

See also:

Oct 20 Texas DSHS announcement
http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/releases/20101020.shtm

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