It’s been about six weeks since the last update on the enoki mushrooms Listeria outbreak. What’s the holdup?

We first learned about the outbreak on November 17, 2022, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it. At that time, there were two people from two states, Michigan and Nevada, has been sickened.

The patients, both males ages 30 and 42, were both so sick they needed to be hospitalized. Their illnesses were confirmed to be listeriosis after their samples were collected for testing on October 5 and October 8, 2022.

Whole genome sequencing performed on the cultures taken from the patients showed they are closely related genetically, meaning that the patients got sick from eating the same contaminated food. During interviews with health officials, the patients reported eating enoki mushrooms they had purchased at grocery stores or eating at restaurants with menu items containing enoki mushrooms.

Before wrapping up the November 17 announcement, the CDC said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had found Listeria in one sample of enoki mushrooms collected at import and that genetic tests showed that the Listeria in these mushrooms is closely related to the Listeria strain that made the people in this outbreak sick. However, the tainted shipment of mushrooms was destroyed, and “the firm associated with this sample has not been identified as a potential source of enoki mushrooms in this outbreak.”

The CDC announcement states no recalls were issued in connection with the outbreak but on the same day the outbreak was announced, there was an enoki mushroom Listeria recall.  Green Day Produce Inc. of Vernon, CA recalled 200g/ 7.05oz packages of enoki mushrooms sold from September 2022 – October 2022. Oddly, these enoki mushrooms were imported from Korea, a country that is not allowed to sell enoki mushrooms in the U.S.  The countrywide ban was put in place after enoki mushrooms from Korea were linked to a deadly outbreak in 2020.

Enoki mushroom Listeria

2020 Enoki Mushroom Listeria Outbreak

The 2020 Listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms imported from Korea sickened 36 people. Thirty-one people were hospitalized, four people died. Six of the patients were pregnant women, two of whom suffered miscarriages.

The CDC announced that outbreak on March 10, 2020, one day after Sun Hong Foods, Inc. of Korea issued a recall for the mushrooms. Two other Korean enoki mushroom suppliers later issued recalls that were also connected to the outbreak.

No Updates Since November

The CDC has issued one update since its November 17 announcement of the outbreak. On November 22, 2022, the agency provided some clarity about the recall issued the same day as its announcement. The mushrooms were collected from a store where one of the patients purchased the enoki mushrooms he ate before becoming ill, but genetic tests showed the Listeria strain in the mushrooms was not the same as the outbreak strain.

The last update from the FDA was on November 30, 2022, when it stated that after beginning a traceback investigation, and conducting an on-site inspection it had begun sample collection and analysis. Usually, test results don’t take six weeks so it’s not clear what has happened to this investigation.

Experienced Listeria Lawyers

If you were sickened in this outbreak and would like a free consultation about a Listeria lawsuit, please contact our Listeria lawyers. Our Food Safety Team has more experience handling Listeria lawsuits than any other law firm in the country.

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