This is totally not eggs-ellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced yet another Listeria monocytogenes outbreak. This time the culprit seems to be, egg roll please: hard boiled eggs.
Yes, the CDC may have finally cracked the case on why seven people in five states have gotten sick with Listeria from April 10, 2017, to November 12, 2019. It can be hard to figure out the source of a Listeria infection, since symptoms of Listerosis can take a while to appear. Typically, symptoms appear one to four weeks after the consumption of the bacteria but can take up to 70 days to manifest.
For this outbreak, public health officials had detailed info on five of the cases. Of these, nearly all, with only one eggs-eption, had reported eating egg-containing products. Three had consumed hard-boiled eggs in salads. The common source seemed to boil down to bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia. Although there currently isn’t a recall of such products , you may want to be eggs-tra careful about eating hard-boiled eggs, especially if you are at higher risk for Listeria badness.
Those at higher risk for Listeria infections include those 65 years and older, pregnant women and newborns, and anyone with a weaker immune system. If you fall into one of these categories, you are are probably all right if you are doing the boiling and hardening of the eggs yourself. However, any eggs that are already hard-boiled may not be all right, especially if they are from Almark. If you find out a hard-boiled egg is from Almark, put the egg down, step away from the table, and make sure that everything that touched the egg is cleaned and disinfected thoroughly.
As I have described before for Forbes, a Listeria infection may just give you a bout of flu-like symptoms. However, the greater concern is if the bacteria gets into your bloodstream or central nervous system. That’s when a Listeria infection can become deadly. This outbreak has already led to four people being hospitalized and one dying. Listeria can also cause many problems for pregnant women such as miscarriages and premature births and their newborns.
So, count these hard boiled eggs as yet another food product in the yolk of Listeria. Already this year, I have reported on Listeria contaminating deli meats and cheeses, happiness (otherwise known as avocados), sandwiches, salads, and wraps, sausage, oh Mann vegetables, and more happiness (otherwise known as sushi). What’s the eggs-planation for so many outbreaks? Have food safety regulations and monitoring been relaxed to the point that such contamination is becoming more common? It seems that this situation needs to be more closely eggs-amined.
I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am a Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY), Executive Director of PHICOR (@PHICORteam), Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and founder and CEO of Symsilico. My previous positions include serving as Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, and co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work involves developing computational approaches, models, and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica) and has been supported by a wide variety of sponsors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, UNICEF, USAID and the Global Fund. I have authored over 200 scientific publications and three books. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts.