Deli Meats and Cheeses Have Been Linked to a Multi-State Listeria Outbreak — Here’s What You Need to Know

published Nov 11, 2022
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Lunch sandwiches stacked.
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Authorities are investigating another Listeria outbreak that has been confirmed as the cause of 16 infections and one death across six states over the past few months. They’re not sure, however, that these figures actually paint an accurate picture.

The cases that have been confirmed so far occurred between April 2021 and September 2022, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports. A majority of these infections happened in the northeast, with seven cases in New York, one in New Jersey, and two in Massachusetts. Two additional cases were in Illinois, one in California, and three in Maryland — the latter of which being where one person died.

The CDC says it is currently working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to determine if the outbreak can be linked to any particular product or location. What they know so far is that the illnesses reported seem to be linked with meats and cheeses from deli counters, rather than what might be purchased from the grocery store.

Of the 16 cases reported, 11 of them confirmed having eaten food from deli counters within the months prior to them getting sick. Five of the people who fell ill in New York all reported grabbing something to eat from the same NetCost Market location.

While authorities don’t believe the strain of listeria monocytogenes they are tracking is isolated to that particular chain, the Brooklyn location in question was temporarily closed in 2021 after traces of listeria were found.

Given the timeframe and the location of the infections they have confirmed, authorities are concerned that the outbreak may be much more widespread than what the current figures are showing. Some people’s symptoms may have been mild enough to treat at home, while others who sought medical care may have not been tested for listeria. It’s also important to note that symptoms can sometimes take two to four weeks to manifest, so someone who was recently infected might not even know they’re sick yet. The CDC is using their PulseNet system — which manages a national database of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses — to continue monitoring this situation.

This isn’t the first time that deli meat has been the cause of a massive listeria outbreak. Just last summer, Florida, Massachusetts, and New York had a total of 10 people fall extremely ill after eating deli meat. At the time, there was one reported death.

If you are currently at risk for listeria (those who are over 65, pregnant, or have a weakened immune system), the CDC currently recommends avoiding the consumption of deli meat unless cooked to over 165°F or steaming hot right before serving.

Wondering what other recalls and public health alerts have been issued lately? Check out this page that’s updated regularly to stay in the know.