Listeria Outbreak Tied to Deli-Sliced Meat, Cheese

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CDC and several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria infections linked to deli-sliced meats and cheeses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are monitoring the outbreak.

Latest Outbreak Information

  • A total of 8 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 4 states.
    • All 8 people have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported from Michigan.
  • Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that meats and cheeses sliced at deli counters might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and could make people sick.
  • In interviews, ill people report eating different types and brands of products, including meats and cheeses, purchased from and sliced at deli counters in many different retail locations.
  • The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from meat sliced at a deli and from deli counters in multiple stores.
  • A single, common supplier of deli products has not been identified.
  • CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating products prepared at delis, or that retailers stop selling deli-sliced products.

What to do

  • Retailers should clean and sanitize deli slicers frequently and other areas where deli products are prepared, stored, or served to avoid cross contamination.
  • This outbreak is a reminder that people at higher risk for severe Listeria infection should handle deli-sliced meats and cheeses carefully to prevent illness. Pregnant women and their newborns, adults age 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to get sick with listeriosis.
  • People who are at higher risk for Listeria infection should avoid eating lunch meats, cold cuts, or other deli meats, unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
    • If you develop symptoms of a Listeria infection after eating deli-sliced products, contact a healthcare provider and tell them you ate deli-sliced products. This is especially important if you are pregnant, age 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system.
    • If you have eaten deli-sliced products and do not have any symptoms of a Listeria infection, most experts believe that tests or treatment are not needed, even for people who have a higher chance of Listeria infection.
    • Listeria bacteria can survive at very low temperatures and can spread easily to other foods and surfaces. Consumers should clean refrigerators, kitchen countertops, utensils, and other surfaces that touch deli-sliced products.
    • You can take steps to prevent Listeria infection:
      • Don’t let juice from lunch meat and hot dog packages get on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces.
      • Wash hands after handling deli meats, lunch meats, deli cheeses, and hot dogs.
      • Store opened packages of meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

 

About the Author

Truman Lewis
Truman has been a bureau chief and correspondent in D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix and elsewhere, reporting for radio, television, print and news services, for more than 30 years. Most recently, he has reported extensively on health and consumer issues for ConsumerAffairs.com and FairfaxNews.com.