Listeria Outbreak Causes at Least 4 Deaths, 30 Hospitalizations as Enoki Mushrooms are Recalled

The Food and Drug Administration is recommending no one consume enoki mushrooms from Sun Hong Foods after four U.S. deaths have been possibly linked to contamination.

The four deaths were reported in California, Hawaii, and New Jersey, according to the Centers for Disease Control, while 30 other people have been hospitalized.

Sun Hong Foods recalled the enoki mushrooms on Monday because they were contaminated with listeria — “a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death.”

Listeria is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. The CDC says pregnant women “typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches,” but it can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

So far, six pregnant women were reported to have listeria in connection to the outbreak, according to the CDC, and two lost their babies.

People who are not pregnant can experience a range of symptoms, including headaches, a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches.

“Symptoms for invasive listeriosis usually start one-to-four weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria,” the CDC says. “Some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.”

The Sun Hong Foods enoki mushrooms are labeled “Product of Korea” and are white and long with small caps.

“Consumers are warned not to eat even if it does not look or smell spoiled,” the company said in an announcement.

The CDC says there’s been cases reported in 17 states, while the FDA report says the Sun Hung Foods-brand enoki mushrooms were distributed to stores in California, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, and Florida.

The CDC says illnesses were reported from November 23, 2016 through December 13, 2019 and that the listeria bacterium has infected people ranging in age from 1 year old to 97 years old.

“Consumers, food service operators, and retailers should not eat, serve, or sell recalled enoki mushrooms,” the CDC says. “FDA is working to identify the source of the enoki mushrooms distributed by Sun Hong Foods, Inc. and determine if other distributors received the same enoki mushrooms.”

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