The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced a recall for over 89,000 pounds of ready-to-eat ham products over concerns that they may have been contaminated with listeria. Johnston County Hams, based in North Carolina, is recalling the deli ham after three reported illnesses and one death.
The recall includes products produced between April 3, 2017, and October 2, 2018, some of which have sell-by dates up to September 2019 (yes, 2019!). Though it hasn't been announced which stores the affected ham was sold in, it was shipped to distributors in Maryland, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia. All of the products included in the recall have the establishment number “EST. M2646” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
An investigation by the FSIS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a link between Listeria monocytogenes illnesses and ham products that were produced at Johnston County Hams. The investigation identified four confirmed illnesses, including one death, all occurring between July 8, 2017, and August 11, 2018.
The FSIS is concerned that some people may still have the contaminated ham in their freezers and urges consumers who’ve purchased these products not to eat them. Instead, if you have any ham products in your freezer that are part of the recall, you should throw them out or return them for a refund.
Eating food that’s been contaminated with Listeria 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. While it’s less common, people outside these risk groups can also be affected. Listeriosis can cause some nasty symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, sometimes with diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, like vomiting. People who are in the high-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months of eating contaminated food should seek medical care—and be sure to tell their health care providers about eating the contaminated food.
Here’s a full list of the products being recalled: