Going public: Foody World Listeria edition

Listeria illnesses are tough because they often look like sporadic cases. Linking multiple individuals together, especially with the potential for a long incubation period, is tough. The mantra of share what you know, what you don’t know and be available for questions is one is essential in sharing public health information.

Who knew what, when, and what was the response are a common set of questions following any foodborne illness incident. These questions are being raised by Richmond News following Foody World’s link to six cases of listeriosis. foody-world

An outbreak of the potentially deadly Listeriosis disease at a Richmond grocery store – which is linked to the death of a customer – can be traced back three months.


The Richmond News learned on Tuesday that the first two cases of Listeriosis were reported and confirmed in late July, with another two in August and two more in October.

It was only last Friday, Oct. 14, that health officials were able to finally narrow it down to Foody World on Sexsmith Road, near Garden City Road and Sea Island Way.

“The incubation period for (the Listeria bacteria) could be a couple of months, so it’s difficult to investigate,” explained Claudia Kurzac, VCH’s manager for environmental health programs in Richmond.

A number of stores were named as being used by people in the first few cases that were reported, said Kurzac, making it problematic to accurately trace the source of the outbreak.

“Foody World came up, but so did many others and we had to look into all the others, as well,” she said.

“In early October, the fifth case was reported and only then were we able to narrow it down to Foody World.

“On Oct. 7, we carried out a detailed inspection of Foody World; preliminary results took a week and on the 14th we had it confirmed to be Foody World.”

It’s understood that the customers affected had all consumed processed meat, in particular pork and beef, from the store over the last few months.

Kurzac said the store’s management has brought in a professional cleaning company and are now working with VCH on the store’s procedures and policies. “Clearly, a lot of education is taking place,” she added.

“There will be a lot of testing before they will be allowed to re-open.”

Cleaning and sanitizing of deli slicers? Or is this maybe a supplier issue?

This entry was posted in Food Safety Policy, Listeria and tagged by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.