29 sick, 3 dead: Canadians wrap up Dole listeria investigation

Doug Carder of The Packer reports the Public Health Agency of Canada has wrapped up its investigation into a listeria outbreak linked to Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc.’s processing plant in Springfield, Ohio, that infected more than a dozen Canadians.

listeria4“Given that the source of the outbreak was identified and contaminated products have been recalled from the market, the outbreak investigation coordinating committee has been deactivated and the investigation is coming to a close,” according to a report posted on the Canadian health agency’s website regarding the investigation which began in late January.

The agency investigated 14 cases of Listeria monocytogenes in five Canadian provinces: Ontario (9), Quebec (2), New Brunswick (1), Prince Edward Island (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1), according to the report. Individuals became ill between May 2015 and February, the agency reported.

“All cases have been hospitalized, and three people have died, however it has not been determined if listeria contributed to the cause of these deaths,” according to Public Health Agency of Canada’s final report.

Dole reported Jan. 21 to U.S. health officials with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it had suspended operations at the Ohio plant once it learned of the possible connection to the listeria outbreak. On Jan. 27, the company voluntarily recalled all Dole and private-label packaged salads produced there.

FDA confirmed Jan. 28 the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in a packaged salad produced at the Springfield plant.

As of Feb. 25, the CDC had reported the outbreak had infected 18 people in nine states. All cases required hospitalization, according to CDC.

Laboratory results from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed a link between recalled packaged salad products and the listeria outbreak in Canada, according to the report. Lab results “confirmed that the Canadian and U.S. listeria outbreaks are highly genetically related,” according to the Canadian health agency’s report.

While Canadian health officials have concluded their investigation, the U.S. investigation into the outbreak remains active, according to FDA.