CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to hard-boiled eggs.
CDC is concerned that bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Ga., are contaminated with Listeria and have made people sick. These products were packaged in plastic pails for use nationwide by food service operators. These products have not been recalled. However, because Listeria can cause severe infections, CDC is warning against selling, serving, or using these eggs to make other food products.
Retailers and food service operators should know who supplies their bulk hard-boiled eggs. Consumers will not be able to tell if products they’ve purchased from stores contain these eggs, so it is important that people at higher risk for Listeria infections follow the advice listed below.
Retailers and food service operators should not use bulk hard-boiled eggs produced at the Almark Foods Gainesville, Georgia facility, regardless of use-by date.
These eggs were peeled, hard-boiled, and packaged in plastic pails of various sizes.
Food processors and manufacturers should not use these eggs to make ready-to-eat foods, such as egg salad, deviled eggs, or salads.
These fresh hard-boiled eggs were packaged in plastic pails and have a 49-day shelf-life.
Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with the eggs or the pail packaging. Listeria can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Listeria bacteria isolated from ill people by using a standardized laboratory and data analysis method called whole genome sequencing (WGS).CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these sequences that are used to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives investigators detailed information about the bacteria causing illness. In this investigation, WGS showed that bacteria isolated from ill people are closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.
As of Dec. 17, 2019, a total of seven people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogeneshave been reported from five states.
Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from April 10, 2017, to November 12, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than 1 to 82 years, with a median age of 75. Seventy-one percent of ill people are male. Of six ill people with information available, four hospitalizations have been reported. One death has been reported from Texas.One illness was reported in a newborn who was infected with Listeria while the mother was pregnant, but the newborn survived.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the month before they became ill. Of the five people for whom information was available, four (80%) reported eating products containing eggs. Three of these people reported eating hard-boiled eggs in deli salads purchased from grocery stores and in salads eaten at restaurants.
In the PulseNet database, CDC noted two environmental samples from February 2019 that are closely related genetically to bacteria from ill people in this outbreak. FDA reports that these samples were taken during a routine inspection of the Almark Foods facilityexternal icon. These results provide additional evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods.
Investigators are continuing to collect records from grocery stores and restaurants where ill people reported eating hard-boiled eggs. Investigations are ongoing to determine and document the distribution and production chain, as well as the source of hard-boiled eggs to the locations reported by ill people.