Tyson recalls 4,250 TONS of ready-to-eat chicken over deadly Listeria contamination fears

TYSON Foods is urgently recalling 4,250 TONS of ready-to-eat chicken products over deadly Listeria contamination fears.

The frozen and cooked chicken was produced at a Dexter plant in Missouri, before being distributed to food and retail customers nationwide and Puerto Rico, the firm says.

The recall was also announced by the US Department of Agriculture's food inspectors, who said that two people have already become ill with listeriosis after eating Tyson's pre-cooked chicken.

The affected batches have already been sold to hospitals, nursing facilities, restaurants, schools and Department of Defense locations.

Listeria infection is a foodborne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women, people older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems, explains the Mayo Clinic.

Tyson Foods announced on Saturday that it was "voluntarily recalling approximately 8.5 million pounds of frozen, fully cooked chicken.

"While there is no conclusive evidence that the products were contaminated at the time of shipment, the voluntary recall is being initiated out of an abundance of caution.

"The affected products were produced at one plant located in Dexter, Missouri, between December 26 of 2020 and April 13 of 2021.

"They are being recalled as a precaution due to possible exposure to Listeria monocytogenes, a harmful bacteria.

"No other Tyson brand products, such as chicken nuggets or fresh products, have been impacted."

The Sun has previously written about harmful Listeria, which is a bacteria that can cause the infection listeriosis if ingested.

It can grow and reproduce inside the host's cells and is one of the most virulent food based pathogens.

Between 20 to 30 per cent of food borne listeriosis infections in high-risk individuals may be fatal.

Listeria bacteria can prove serious for pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.

Prof Brendan Wren, an expert from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK, said: "If consumed it can lead to gastroenteritis, and in compromised patients more severe disease such as meningitis and, in rare cases, death.

"Pregnant women can pass the infection to their unborn children who are particularly susceptible to infection."

The USDA's food inspectorate said: "The products subject to recall bear establishment number 'EST. P-7089' on the product bag or inside the USDA mark of inspection.

"These items were shipped nationwide to retailers and institutions, including hospitals, nursing facilities, restaurants, schools and Department of Defense locations."

The food boffins added that "on June 9, 2021, FSIS was notified of two people ill with listeriosis.

"Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health partners, FSIS determined there is evidence linking the Listeria monocytogenes illnesses to precooked chicken produced at Tyson Foods.

"The epidemiologic investigation identified three listeriosis illnesses, including one death, between April 6, 2021 and June 5, 2021.

"During routine sample collection, FSIS collected two precooked chicken samples from two establishments that are closely related genetically to Listeria monocytogenes from ill people.

"One of the samples was collected at Tyson Foods.

"FSIS is continuing to work with federal and state public health partners to determine if there are additional illnesses linked to these products."

What Tyson chicken products have been recalled because of Listeria fears?

Tyson Foods is recalling 8,492,832 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken products that may be adulterated with Listeria.

The frozen, fully cooked chicken products were produced between December 26, 2020 and April 13, 2021.

The products hit by the massive recall show the number “EST. P-7089” on the product bag or inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Products being recalled can be found HERE.

Among the three pages of listed chicken products are:

  • Tyson pulled chicken breast – cooked, boneless, skinless with rib meat, seasoned, smoke flavor added
  • Jet’s Pizza – cooked, Fajita seasoned
  • Tyson cooked, low sodium, boneless, skinless pulled white chicken
  • Casey’s General Store – cooked, grilled chicken breast strips with rib meat
  • Marco’s Pizza – cooked, sliced chicken breast strips with rib meat, smoke flavor added

The FSIS has provided a link to three pages of recalled products, including Tyson pulled chicken breast, boneless chicken strips for fajitas, low sodium diced white chicken, and Little Caesars fully cooked chicken wing sections.

The FSIS said that it was "concerned that some product may be in consumer and institutional freezers.

"Consumers should not eat these products. Institutions should not serve these products.

"These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, the FSIS added.

What is listeria, what are the symptoms and can I die from listeria?

Listeria is a bacteria that can cause the infection listeriosis if ingested.

In severe cases you can die from listeria.

Most people only experience mild symptoms for a few days:

  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • aches and pains
  • chills
  • feeling sick or vomiting
  • diarrhoea

However, pregnant women, babies, those with a weak immune system and the elderly are at particular risk and should get medical help immediately if they believe they have listeriosis.

You may need a blood test to determine if you've been infected.

You should call emergency services or go to hospital if you experience more severe symptoms:

  • a severe headache and stiff neck
  • discomfort when looking at bright lights
  • fits (seizures)
  • sudden confusion

How do you catch it?

It is usually caught from eating food that contains the bacteria.

You can get it from many different types of food, mainly these:

  • unpasteurised milk
  • dairy products made from unpasteurised milk
  • soft cheeses, like Camembert and brie
  • chilled ready-to-eat foods, like prepacked sandwiches, pâté and deli meats

If you have eaten these foods it does not automatically mean you will get listeria.

You should only go to the doctor if you start to feel the symptoms.

You can also catch listeria from someone else who has it, for example, if you eat food that was handled by someone who did not wash their hands.

If you get in close contact with farm animals – especially sheep and cows – when they are giving birth, you are also at risk.

The CDC estimates that Listeria is the third leading cause of death from foodborne illness, or food poisoning, in the United States.

An estimated 1,600 people get sick from Listeria each year, and about 260 die.

Pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more likely than the general population to get Listeria infection.

  • Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10am to 6pm (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.
  • Or, you can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via email to [email protected]

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