Dole knew of Listeria; feds launch criminal investigation
BY CORAL BEACH | APRIL 29, 2016
UPDATED CONTENT 6:37 p.m. EDT — The U.S. Department of Justice in investigating Dole in relation to the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak, according to a news release posted on the company’s website.
“Dole has recently been contacted by the Department of Justice in connection with its own investigation, and we will be similarly cooperating with the DOJ to answer questions and address any concerns,” according to the company statement. The statement came today after Food Safety News published information from the Food and Drug Administration’s inspection reports on the Dole salad production facility in Springfield, OH.
Company officials knew the salad plant was contaminated with Listeria for a year and a half before they shut it down — then they only took action after the U.S. and Canadian governments traced a deadly outbreak to the facility.
Inspection reports (483) obtained by Food Safety News revealed the timeline of positive Listeria results and inaction. Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. finally suspended production at its salad plant in Springfield, OH, on Jan. 21 this year after a random test by state officials showed a bagged salad contained Listeria monocytogenes.
By that time, at least 33 people in the U.S. and Canada had been sickened with the same strain of Listeria as was found when Ohio inspectors tested the Dole salad they collected from a retailer. All 33 victims had such severe symptoms they required hospitalization. Four of them died.