Outbreak of Invasive Listeriosis Associated With the Consumption of Hog Head cheese--Louisiana, 2010

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011 Apr 8;60(13):401-5.


During January-June 2010, a total of 14 cases of laboratory-confirmed invasive listeriosis were reported to the Louisiana Office of Public Health (OPH). Isolates of Listeria monocytogenes from the blood samples of eight patients were identified as serotype 1/2a and had pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern combinations that were indistinguishable from one another. The detection of this cluster prompted an investigation in coordination with CDC, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS). In-depth epidemiologic and environmental investigations of the cluster were initiated on July 26, including food history interviews of four patients. Three patients reported eating hog head cheese (a meat jelly made from swine heads and feet); the product was purchased at two grocery stores in Louisiana. A traceback investigation determined that a single brand of hog head cheese was common between the two grocery stores. L. monocytogenes serotype 1/2a was cultured from one of three product samples and from two of 16 environmental samples collected by LDAF at the processing establishment; the product and one of the two environmental samples yielded isolates with PFGE pattern combinations that were indistinguishable from the patient isolates. On August 14, LDAF coordinated a voluntary recall of approximately 500,000 pounds of hog head cheese and sausage because of possible contamination with L. monocytogenes. This is the first published report of an invasive listeriosis outbreak associated with hog head cheese, which is a ready-to-eat (RTE) meat. USDA-FSIS has a "zero tolerance" policy for L. monocytogenes contamination of RTE food products, requesting recall of such products at any detectable level of L. monocytogenes contamination. LDAF imposes and enforces equivalent requirements in state-inspected establishments.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Listeria monocytogenes / classification
  • Listeria monocytogenes / genetics
  • Listeria monocytogenes / isolation & purification*
  • Listeriosis / epidemiology*
  • Listeriosis / transmission
  • Louisiana / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Meat Products / microbiology*
  • Meat Products / poisoning
  • Middle Aged
  • Swine