Hardboiled eggs and egg products are being recalled from stores all over the country in the midst of a deadly listeria outbreak that has resulted in several hospitalizations and at least one death. On December 24, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Food Safety Alert warning that at least seven people had been infected with a similar strain of Listeria monocytogenes after consuming contaminated hardboiled egg products. The recall has since been expanded to include nearly 80 different hardboiled egg products sold by more than 30 brands. Among the many retailers included in the recall are popular grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, Costco, Walmart and Kroger.
The egg recall was first announced by Almark Foods on December 20 and affected all hardboiled eggs and peeled eggs in pails manufactured at the firm’s facility in Gainesville, Georgia, including retail, pillow pack, frozen diced, pouch pack and protein kit products. The FDA had previously notified Almark Foods, which distributes egg products for the retail and foods-service industries, that the company’s Hard-Boiled and Peeled eggs in pails had been linked to a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that resulted in several reported illnesses and one death.
The initial recall was expanded several times to include all hardboiled eggs and egg products manufactured at the Almark Foods facility in Gainesville, including egg products sold at Walmart and Trader Joe’s. According to reports, the recalled hardboiled eggs and egg products may have been contaminated by broken egg white products, which may have contained Listeria monocytogenes. Trader Joe’s egg and potato salads have also been recalled, since Almark Foods provided broken egg whites used in the production of those products.
Products affected by the egg recall have “Best If Used By” dates through March 2, 2020, with an identification code that begins with the letter “G,” meaning the products were manufactured at the Gainesville facility and should not be consumed. Almark Foods has temporarily halted production at the Gainesville facility, “out of an abundance of caution,” the company says, though its facilities in Arizona and North Carolina have ramped up production to meet consumer needs. “We are working diligently in cooperation with the FDA to restore operations at our Gainesville plant so that we can continue providing safe, healthy, and affordable eggs to the market from that facility,” says Almark Foods president Don Stoner. “We apologize for this extremely rare safety lapse and we’re making every effort to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
The multistate outbreak of listeria is caused by Listeria monocytogenes, a food-borne bacteria found in dairy, meat and vegetable products. The infection primarily affects newborns, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, although healthy people infected with Listeria monocytogenes may suffer short-term symptoms similar to other food-borne illnesses, like headache, stiffness, high fever, abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea. In severe cases, the infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women. According to the CDC, the listeria outbreak is contained to five states, but the recalled egg products were sold in bulk to retailers and food-service operators nationwide. To date, the CDC has reported that four people were rushed to the hospital following exposure to listeria and one person in Texas died due to the infection.
The CDC’s investigation of the contaminated egg products is ongoing to determine the source of the contamination and to identify any additional products that may be linked to the listeria outbreak. In the meantime, the agency advises consumers at higher risk for listeria infection to dispose of any store-bought hardboiled eggs or products containing hardboiled eggs, such as egg salad. If you have any of these products at home, do not eat them, the CDC warns. Instead, throw them away and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators and freezers where the products were stored.
A full list of the recalled egg products was posted on the FDA’s website and includes hardboiled eggs and cooked egg products sold under the brand names Eggland’s Best, Great Value, Dairy Fresh, Everyday Essentials, Food Club, Kirkland Signature, Lucerne, Member’s Mark, Shop Rite, Fresh Thyme, Vital Farms, Giant Eagle and Great Value, among others. If you or someone you know has become ill from listeria contamination, contact an experienced attorney as soon as you can to find out if you qualify for a product liability lawsuit. You may have grounds to pursue financial compensation from the manufacturer of the contaminated product and a knowledgeable product liability lawyer can help.