Listeria Linked to Hard Boiled Eggs

CDC is concerned that bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are contaminated with Listeria and have made people sick. These products were packaged in plastic pails for use nationwide by food service operators. These products have not been recalled. However, because Listeria can cause severe infections, CDC is warning against selling, serving, or using these eggs to make other food products.

Retailers and food service operators should know who supplies their bulk hard-boiled eggs. Consumers will not be able to tell if products they’ve purchased from stores contain these eggs, so it is important that people at higher risk for Listeria infections follow the advice listed below.

Advice for retailers and food service operators:

  • Retailers and food service operators should not use bulk hard-boiled eggs produced at the Almark Foods Gainesville, Georgia facility, regardless of use-by date.
    • These eggs were peeled, hard-boiled, and packaged in plastic pails of various sizes.
  • Food processors and manufacturers should not use these eggs to make ready-to-eat foods, such as egg salad, deviled eggs, or salads.
  • These fresh hard-boiled eggs were packaged in plastic pails and have a 49-day shelf-life.
  • Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with the eggs or the pail packaging. Listeria can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
  • Retailers and food service operators should be aware of the following:
    • This advice does not include Almark Foods hard-boiled eggs sold directly to consumersexternal icon, or any other brands of hard-boiled eggs or products made with hard-boiled eggs. The data collected to date has not indicated that these products are linked to illness.
    • This advice does not include eggs hard-boiled by retailers or restaurants.

Advice for people at higher risk for Listeria infection, such as pregnant women and their newborns, adults ages 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer or on dialysis:

  • Until we learn more, CDC advises that people at higher risk for Listeria infection throw away any store-bought hard-boiled eggs or products containing hard-boiled eggs, such as egg salad.
    • If you have these products at home, don’t eat them. Throw them away, regardless of where you bought them or the use-by date.
    • Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators and freezers where the products were stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.
    • This advice does not include eggs hard-boiled at home or homemade products made with those eggs, such as egg salad or deviled eggs.
  • If you buy products with hard-boiled eggs, or order or eat items with hard-boiled eggs at a restaurant:
    • Before you buy, order, or eat, confirm with the store or restaurant that they do not use hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods.
    • If they use hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods, don’t buy or order the product.
    • If they don’t know where their hard-boiled eggs are from, don’t buy or order the product.
  • People at higher risk for Listeria infection are much more likely than the general public to get sick after eating a food contaminated with this bacteria.
Latest Outbreak Information
Illustration of a megaphone.
  • Seven people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from five states.
    • Four hospitalizations have been reported. One death has been reported from Texas.
  • Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that bulk hard-boiled eggs from Almark Foods are a likely source of this outbreak.
  • This investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness.
  • CDC will provide updates when more information is available.
Symptoms of Listeria Infection
Illustration of a person with stomach pain.
  • Listeriosis can cause different symptoms, depending on the person and the part of the body affected.
    • Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
    • People other than pregnant women: Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
  • People with invasive listeriosis usually report symptoms starting 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria; some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.
  • Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.
Investigation Details

December 18, 2019

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to hard-boiled eggs.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Listeria bacteria isolated from ill people by using a standardized laboratory and data analysis method called whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these sequences that are used to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives investigators detailed information about the bacteria causing illness. In this investigation, WGS showed that bacteria isolated from ill people are closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

As of December 17, 2019, a total of seven people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogeneshave been reported from five states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from April 10, 2017, to November 12, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than 1 to 82 years, with a median age of 75. Seventy-one percent of ill people are male. Of six ill people with information available, four hospitalizations have been reported. One death has been reported from Texas.One illness was reported in a newborn who was infected with Listeria while the mother was pregnant, but the newborn survived.

Investigation of the Outbreak

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that bulk hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are a likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the month before they became ill. Of the five people for whom information was available, four (80%) reported eating products containing eggs. Three of these people reported eating hard-boiled eggs in deli salads purchased from grocery stores and in salads eaten at restaurants.

In the PulseNet database, CDC noted two environmental samples from February 2019 that are closely related genetically to bacteria from ill people in this outbreak. FDA reports that these samples were taken during a routine inspection of the Almark Foods facilityexternal icon. These results provide additional evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods.

Investigators are continuing to collect records from grocery stores and restaurants where ill people reported eating hard-boiled eggs. Investigations are ongoing to determine and document the distribution and production chain, as well as the source of hard-boiled eggs to the locations reported by ill people.

CDC is concerned that bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are contaminated with Listeria and have made people sick. These products were packaged in plastic pails for use nationwide by food service operators.

The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

Read the full CDC Report here.

As published by HealthyExaminer.com.