One death has been attributed to a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Smithfield, NC-based Johnston County Hams. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) announced last week a recall of 89,096 (44 tons) of ready-to-eat ham products that may be contaminated. The ham products affected include various boneless and fully-cooked deli ham selections.
On September 27, USDA FSIS learned that one person who contracted listeriosis had consumed a ham product produced by Johnston County Hams. After that, an investigation ensued with the help of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and various state public health and agriculture partners. That epidemiological investigation led officials to believe that Johnston County Hams was linked to a total of four confirmed Listeria illnesses. The illnesses and the one death occurred between July 8, 2018 and August 11, 2018.
USDA FSIS sampled two deli ham products from the Johnston County Hams plant in 2016 and again in early 2018. Whole genome sequencing results showed that Listeria monocytogenes identified in deli ham both years was closely related genetically to Listeria monocytogenes from ill people.
FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. The partnering agencies are continuing to work together to determine if there are additional illnesses linked to Johnston County Hams.