MONTEREY, CALIF. — Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. temporarily is suspending operations at its Springfield, Ohio, production facility, and voluntarily is withdrawing from the market all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at that location. The decision comes on the heels of an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that linked a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes to Dole products produced in Springfield.
Since September 2015, the C.D.C. has been collaborating with public health officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes.
The investigation determined 12 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from six states since July 5, 2015. Listeria specimens were collected from July 5, 2015, to Dec. 23, 2015. All 12 ill people reported being hospitalized, and one person from Michigan died as a result of listeriosis. One of the illnesses reported was in a pregnant woman, according to the C.D.C.
“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence available at this time indicates that packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio, and sold under various brand names are the likely source of this outbreak,” the C.D.C. said. “State and local health departments are interviewing ill people about the foods they may have eaten or other exposures in the month before their illness began. Of five ill people who were asked about packaged salad, all five (100%) reported eating a packaged salad. Two (100%) of two ill people who specified the brand of packaged salad eaten reported various varieties of Dole brand packaged salad.”
As part of a routine product sampling program, the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected a Dole brand Field Greens packaged salad from a retail location and isolated Listeria. The packaged salad was produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield. Earlier this month, it was determined that the Listeria isolate from the packaged salad was highly related genetically to isolates from ill people. This information linked the illnesses to Dole brand packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield.
On Jan. 21, Dole told the C.D.C. that it had stopped production at the processing facility in Springfield. The company also said it is withdrawing packaged salads currently on the market that were produced at the Springfield facility. The withdrawal does not affect other Dole products.“C.D.C. recommends that consumers do not eat, restaurants do not serve, and retailers do not sell packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio,” the C.D.C. said. “These packaged salads were sold under various brand names, including Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar and President’s Choice. The packaged salads can be identified by the letter ‘A’ at the beginning of the manufacturing code found on the package. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that packaged salads produced at other Dole processing facilities in the United States are linked to illness.”