Whole genome sequencing confirms: Listeria in pre-packaged salad

We report on a case of listeriosis in a patient who probably consumed a prepackaged romaine lettuce–containing product recalled for Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145Although definitive epidemiological information demonstrating exposure to the specific recalled product was lacking, the patient reported consumption of a prepackaged romaine lettuce–containing product of either the recalled brand or a different brand.

A multinational investigation found that patient and food isolates from the recalled product were indistinguishable by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and were highly related by whole genome sequencing, differing by four alleles by whole genome multilocus sequence typing and by five high-quality single nucleotide polymorphisms, suggesting a common source.

To our knowledge, this is the first time prepackaged lettuce has been identified as a likely source for listeriosis. This investigation highlights the power of whole genome sequencing, as well as the continued need for timely and thorough epidemiological exposure data to identify sources of foodborne infections.

Use of whole genome sequencing and patient interviews to link a case of sporadic listeriosis to consumption of prepackaged lettuce

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 5, May 2016, pp. 696-889, pp. 806-809(4)

Jackson, K. A.; Stroika, S.; Katz, L. S.; Beal, J.; Brandt, E.; Nadon, C.; Reimer, A.; Major, B.; Conrad, A.; Tarr, C.; Jackson, B. R.; Mody, R. K.