A New Jersey company is recalling 200,000 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken and turkey sold nationwide and possibly linked to a listeria outbreak that sickened 50 people and killed seven, the Agriculture Department announced Saturday.
Jack Lambersky Poultry Company Inc., of Camden, N.J., is pulling precooked turkey and chicken products made between June 27 and July 3. It also has halted operations. Tests showed some of the meat contained a listeria strain matching the one that infected people in eight northeastern states, according to the Agriculture Department.
The meat was distributed to retail stores and other institutions across the country. The company does business as J.L. Foods Company Inc.
“Consumers should check their refrigerators and freezers for products involved in this recall and return them to the point of purchase,” Dr. Garry L. McKee, administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in a statement.
Officials at Jack Lambersky Poultry Company are continuing to compile information about the recalled meat, said Kenneth Martin, the general manager for the family owned company.
“This is terribly upsetting for us,” Martin said. “We were told that people were sick by eating our product. I don’t know how to answer questions other than it’s very emotional.”
Martin said the company would release more details on Sunday.
Steven Cohen, a spokesman for the Agriculture Department said none of the recalled meat went to the federal school lunch program.
USDA inspectors have been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find the cause of the listeria outbreak that began in mid-July. The investigation prompted another meat plant, Wampler Foods in Franconia, Pa., to recall 27 million pounds of ready-to-eat poultry meat on Oct. 12, the largest recall. Some of that meat had been distributed to schools.
Afterward, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman directed inspection officials to strengthen the listeria testing program. Watchdog groups and members of Congress have been urging her to toughen food safety rules in light of the large recall.
Listeria is a bacterium that can cause severe illness, stillbirths, and sometimes death. Pregnant women, the elderly, children, and people with weakened immune systems are among the most vulnerable to the disease.