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Listeria Deaths Tied to Recalled Dole Salads

Median age of people sickened by outbreak is 75, CDC probe finds

spinner image lettuce sitting in a silver strainer after being washed
Photo_Concepts / Getty Images

A listeria outbreak linked to salads produced by Dole and sold across the U.S. under multiple brands has resulted in two deaths and 13 hospitalizations as of Feb. 1, according to an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In total, 17 illnesses in 13 states have been connected to the recalled salads.

spinner image map of the united state showing where the dole salad listeria outbreaks have occured

Dole has issued two voluntary salad recall notices, one in December and one in January, related to possible listeria contamination. Recalled products include mixed greens, garden salads, Caesar kits and other types of salads sold in bags or clamshells with “Best if used by” dates from Nov. 30, 2021, to Jan. 9, 2022. Lot codes listed on the packages of affected products begin with the letter “B,” “N,” “W” or “Y.” (See Dole’s recall notices here and here for the full list of recalled salads.)

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The Dole salads subject to the recalls were sold at multiple retailers under multiple brands. Anyone who purchased affected salads should throw them away or return them to where they were bought and clean any surfaces that came into contact with the salads, including the inside of the refrigerator. Consumers and retailers can call Dole’s Consumer Response Center at 800-356-3111 with questions.

Recalled brands include:
  • Ahold
  • Dole
  • HEB
  • Kroger
  • Lidl
  • Little Salad Bar
  • Marketside
  • Naturally Better
  • Nature’s Promise
  • President’s Choice
  • Simply Nature
spinner image two closeups of product codes from bagged salad that has been recalled
Example of a product code from the Soledad, California production facility and from the Springfield, Ohio production facility.
Courtesy FDA

Separately, the CDC is also investigating a listeria outbreak in salads produced by Fresh Express that has so far resulted in one death and 10 hospitalizations across eight states.

Symptoms of a listeria infection

Listeriosis, the infection caused by eating food contaminated with the listeria bacterium, may cause serious and sometimes fatal illness in people 65 and older and those with weakened immune systems. The median age of those sickened in the Dole salad outbreak is 75. Pregnant women and newborns are also at risk of serious infections.

A listeria infection can cause a range of symptoms, according to the CDC, including:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Convulsions
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue

Pregnant women usually experience only fever, fatigue and muscle aches. However, listeria can lead to premature birth or pregnancy loss and can cause serious illness or death in newborns.

About 1,600 people in the U.S. get listeriosis each year, resulting in an average of 260 deaths, the CDC estimates. Americans 65 and older are four times as likely as others to get a listeria infection.

Aaron Kassraie writes about issues important to military veterans and their families for AARP. He also serves as a general assignment reporter. Kassraie previously covered U.S. foreign policy as a correspondent for the Kuwait News Agency’s Washington bureau and worked in news gathering for USA Today and Al Jazeera English.

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