The Salad Listeria Outbreak Is Getting More Dangerous - What You Need To Know

Following in the wake of a salad-related listeria outbreak that swept across the U.S. in December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced another widespread outbreak of the bacterial infection tied to a similar culprit.

According to the CDC, a life-threatening listeria outbreak has been linked to packaged salads produced by the massive fruit and vegetable producer, Dole. The agency reports that the outbreak has resulted in 17 illnesses, 13 hospitalizations, and two deaths across 13 states to date.

The potentially infected salads, which have been linked to the company's processing plants in Yuma, Arizona and Bessemer City, North Carolina, have been voluntarily recalled by Dole over the concerns. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a comprehensive list of the specific salad brands and kits that could potentially be carrying listeria monocytogenes.

This potentially fatal foodborne bacterial illness, which has been the cause of countless nationwide food recalls over the years — most recently in ready-to-eat chicken salad products —can lead to fever, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, chills, nausea, and (in severe cases) death. Listeria is a particularly large threat to those older than 65, young children, pregnant people, and those with weakened immune systems (via Mayo Clinic).

These are the salads being recalled over listeria concerns

The recalled salads include products sold under the brands Dole, Ahold, Kroger, HEB, Lidl, Marketside, Naturally Better, Nature's Promise, Little Salad Bar, Simply Nature, and President's Choice. The products include a variety of bagged greens and pre-packaged salad kits, including but not limited to mixed greens, Caesar salad kits, and garden salads with product lot codes (found on the upper right corner of the bag) starting with the letters "B," "N," "W," or "Y" (via CDC).

The salads currently being investigated have "best if used by" dates ranging from November 30, 2021 to January 9, 2022. In the past, Dole has recalled its salad bags on multiple occasions for listeria concerns and allergen risks.

According to Food & Wine, the semi-recent uptick in listeria-related recalls is largely due to increased sanitation and food safety measures, as well as the development of more sophisticated listeria-detecting technology. "The CDC and FDA have had a major initiative focused on listeriosis using advanced outbreak detection tools," said Michael Doyle, then regents professor of food microbiology at the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety. "This has resulted in detecting more outbreaks of listeriosis that would likely have been unrecognized if these advanced methods were not used."

Despite the similarities, the Dole-related listeria outbreak is being investigated separately from the recent listeria outbreak linked to Fresh Express brand pre-packaged salads, which resulted in 10 hospitalizations and one death from the contaminated greens.