Listeria Outbreak Linked to Enoki Mushrooms Leaves 4 Dead, 30 Hospitalized in the U.S.

enoki mushrooms

A foodborne disease outbreak has killed four people and hospitalized about 30 others throughout the United States. 

Federal health officials have confirmed that enoki mushrooms imported from South Korea have caused a deadly listeria outbreak.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 36 cases of infected people from 17 states have been recorded so far. It further noted that the four deaths were from California, Hawaii and New Jersey. 

The illness, which infected six pregnant women, two of whom experienced a miscarriage, reportedly started from Nov. 23, 2016, to Dec. 13, 2019. 

California-based Sun Hong Foods, Inc., the supplier of the mushrooms, recalled the enoki mushrooms on Monday due to possible contamination with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, according to the company announcement posted on the FDA website.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has reportedly found that a sample from the product tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled product was reportedly sold to distributors in California, Florida, Illinois, Oregon and Texas to J&L Supermarket, Jusgo Supermarket, ZTao Market, New Sang Supermarket and Galleria Market, the FDA said. It also noted that the “product could have been distributed further, reaching additional states and retail locations.”

Popular in East Asian cuisine, enoki mushrooms are usually sold in clusters and can be identified by their long stems and small caps. Enoki mushrooms are also referred to as enokitake, golden needle, futu or lily mushrooms, USA Today reported.

The CDC posted the food safety alert on Tuesday, noting that the multi-state listeria outbreak is currently under investigation. People who are at a higher risk for listeria infections include the elderly (65 or above), pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. Everyone is advised to avoid eating any enoki mushrooms labeled as “Product of Korea.”

While listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics, detecting it can be a challenge as it causes a variety of symptoms in different patients. Some patients may experience headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, fever, muscle aches and convulsions. In addition, pregnant women may also suffer from miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection for the newborn. Symptoms may start between one to four weeks after eating the contaminated food.

Feature Image via FDA

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