Listeria Alert as 130,000 Pounds of Chicken Products May Be Contaminated

More than 130,000 pounds of frozen chicken products that were distributed to food banks in Florida are being recalled due to the risk of being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert for frozen, fully cooked, diced chicken items that were packed on January 25-26, 2021, and March 23-24, 2021. The products were distributed by Big Daddy Foods, Inc., a Houston firm.

They were distributed in individual food boxes to consumers at food banks in Florida through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program, between February 25 through March 1, 2021, and from March 29 through April 8, 2021.

The public health alert applies to the following products:

  • 4-pound plastic bags containing "FULLY COOKED CHICKEN MEAT three-quarters DICED WHITE" with code 13530, establishment number P-18237, and pack dates of "01/25/2021" and "01/26/2021."
  • 4-pound plastic bags containing "FULLY COOKED CHICKEN MEAT DARK/WHITE three-quarters DICED" with code 16598, establishment number P-45638, and pack dates "24/MAR/2021" and "23/MAR/2021."

A routine FSIS inspection found that products that needed recooking due to possible listeria contamination had been repackaged without being recooked, and the FSIS determined that affected products had been distributed. However, there have been no reports of illness after consuming the products.

Consumers who have received the recalled chicken products should not eat them and are urged to throw them away. The FSIS also advises all consumers to reheat ready-to-eat products until steaming hot.

The FSIS announcement says that eating food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, which is a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, people outside of these risk groups are also affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, and an invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract.

In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn. Additionally, serious and sometimes fatal infections can occur in older people and people with weakened immune systems.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. People in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months of eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and around 260 people die.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 or email MPHotline@usda.gov.

Diced Chicken
Stock image of diced chicken. More than 130,000 pounds of frozen, fully cooked, diced chicken is being recalled over Listeria concerns. BWFolsom/Getty