White Castle Recalls Frozen Burgers Over Listeria Fears

Fast-food chain White Castle has issued a voluntary recall of a selection of frozen burger varieties for the possible presence of the listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

Listeria is a foodborne infection that can cause meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and/or septicemia (blood poisoning) in adults and newborn infants. In pregnant women the "transmission of infection to the fetus may lead to stillbirth, septicemia at birth or neonatal meningitis," the World Health Organization (WHO) notes.

The products on recall include 6-pack frozen cheeseburgers and hamburgers, 6-pack frozen jalapeno cheeseburgers and 16-pack cheeseburgers and hamburgers with "Best By" dates falling between August 4, 2020 and August 17, 2020. Any products with "Best By" dates outside this range remain unaffected, the company confirmed.

A shipment to customers was promptly stopped after a sample taken by a third party revealed the presence of the bacteria at one of its manufacturing facilities. All impacted production runs have been identified for destruction "following rigorous safety testing protocols," the company claimed.

White Castle is reportedly taking various measures to address the situation at the facility where the issue was identified, including "intensive sanitation and cleaning with guidance from outside food safety experts, aggressively elevating already strong food safety testing and manufacturing guidelines, and conducting comprehensive testing to confirm no presence of listeria in the facility," the company noted.

There have been no public health official reports of illnesses associated with these products as yet, according to the company.

"The voluntary recall is precautionary," White Castle Vice-President Jamie Richardson said in the statement.

"Our number one focus is the safety of our customers and our team members, and as a family-owned business, we want to hold ourselves to the absolute highest standards of accountability in all aspects of our business—and especially food safety," he said.

Customers who may have purchased any affected products are advised to dispose of them or to return them for an exchange or a full refund at the shop it was purchased. Customers should contact their doctor for any medical questions or can contact White Castle at 1-800-843-2728 for any further questions.

White Castle claims to conduct "regular and frequent quality assurance tests for its products." A full list of the recently recalled products and their relevant code dates can be seen here.

Last month, more than 100 products were recalled over listeria contamination fears. The recalled items included various vegetable and ready meal products sold by the Mann Packing Company under the brand names Del Monte, HEB, Hungryroot, Kroger Organic, Mann's, Marketside, O Organics, Signature Farms, Sysco and Trader Joe's.

Who can get listeria?

Around 1,600 people get sick from listeria each year, and about 260 people die. It is estimated to be the 3rd leading cause of death from foodborne illness, or food poisoning in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

"Listeria is most likely to sicken pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems. Other people can be infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill," the CDC notes.

How is it contracted?

The infection can be contracted by the consumption of contaminated foods such as unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, vegetables and prepared meat products such as pâté, "unlike most foodborne pathogens, Listeria multiplies readily in refrigerated foods that have been contaminated. Transmission is also possible from mother to fetus or from mother to child during birth," the WHO warns.

White Castle burger chain Las Vegas
A White Castle fast food hamburger restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 28, 2016. Getty Images