Seven people have contracted food-poisoning from Almark eggs suspected to be contaminated with listeria bacteria.
Health officials are warning consumers over the age of 65, along with anyone who has a compromised immune system, to throw away store-bought hardboiled eggs.
According to The Associated Press, the recommendation covers other products, like egg salad, which may contain traces of the same contaminated product. So far, seven people in five states have been reported ill in relation to a suspected listeria outbreak, with one patient recently declared dead. Outbreaks have occurred in Florida, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.
CBS News reports that three listeria infections were reported in 2017 while another four occurred this year. While the numbers are neither high nor shocking, they’re sufficient for the CDC to have issued a formal, public warning.
The warning, issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fingered peeled, hardboiled eggs produced by Georgia-based Almark Foods as the most likely culprit. Almark eggs are sold in bulk to retailers and food service operators. While they’re packaged in transparent plastic pails, they can be put in salads and other egg-based products or eaten individually and while.
“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that bulk hard-boiled eggs from Almark Foods area likely source of this outbreak,” the CDC said in a statement. “Three of these people reported eating hard-boiled eggs in deli salads purchased from grocery stores and in salads eaten at restaurants.
However—and seemingly in spite of the CDC’s findings—the agency has exempted certain Almark products from the warning. Hardboiled eggs sold directly to consumers—in supermarkets or convenience stores—haven’t been deemed dangerous by the CDC. Neither, for that matter, have Almark eggs used in restaurants.
Nevertheless, the CDC has urged consumers who are “at higher risk for listeria” and ordering hardboiled eggs or hardboiled egg-containing items to ask restaurants and other commercial venues whether they’ve used Almark-sourced eggs.
In its warning, the CDC provided a cursory breakdown of listeria risk factors. Pregnant women and people with cancer are 10 times more likely than others to contract listeria, while people in dialysis are 50 times more likely. Persons aged over 65 are four times as likely to get listeria than younger people.
Almark, says The Associated Press, declined comment when the media outlet called its facility in Gainesville, Georgia. Meanwhile, Almark maintains that it’s taken corrective action and implemented listeria controls after two swabs taken in February tested positive for the bacteria.
CBS notes that listeria is the third leading cause of death by food poisoning in the United States. About 1,600 people contract listeria infections each year, with about 15% of those who do later dying.