USA – Listeria Outbreak Linked to Deli Meat and Cheese


This outbreak is over. Even when there are no ongoing Listeria outbreaks, people who are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system should reheat deli meat and deli-sliced cheese to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot to kill any germs.

Fast Facts
  • Illnesses: 16
  • Hospitalizations: 13
  • Deaths: 1
  • States: 6
  • Recall: No
  • Investigation status: Closed
Store with deli meat and cheese on shelves
Listeria in Deli Meat and Deli-Sliced Cheese

Deli meats (cold cuts, lunch meats, hot dogs, and pâtés) and deli-sliced cheeses are known sources of Listeria illnesses. This is because Listeria can easily spread among food, food preparation surfaces like deli slicers, and hands. Listeria is a hardy germ that can be difficult to fully remove once it is present in a deli or a food processing facility. It can survive and grow at cold temperatures in a refrigerator.

Outbreak Investigation Summary

Data showed that deli meat and cheese bought at deli counters in multiple states were the likely sources of this outbreak.

  • Of 12 people interviewed, 11 reported eating meat or cheese from deli counters.
  • The outbreak strain of Listeria was found in open packages of mortadella, ham, and salami sliced at the deli, as well as a deli in Brooklyn, New York.

A single deli or food source was not identified. It is difficult for investigators to identify the specific source of outbreaks linked to deli meats and cheeses. This is because Listeria spreads easily between food and the deli environment, and it can live for a long time in deli display cases and on equipment. A contaminated food likely introduced the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in multiple states.

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