On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Johnston County Hams voluntarily recalled approximately 89,096 pounds of ready-to-eat ham products potentially infected with Listeria monocytogenes.
The investigation began Sept. 27 when FSIS was notified a person fell ill after consuming their cured country ham. Further investigation revealed a total of four confirmed listeriosis illnesses between July 8, 2017 and Aug. 11, 2018. Unfortunately, one of the victims has since passed.
After determining a link between the illnesses and the ham producer, FSIS epidemiologists compared samples from the four confirmed cases. Results showed Listeria monocytogenes present in deli ham closely related to those found in the infected individuals.
As a result, five ready-to-eat deli loaf ham products produced between April 3, 2017 and Oct. 2, 2018, were subject to recall. These items were shipped to distributors in Maryland, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina and Virginia. FSIS urged consumers to check freezers and throw away or return any potentially infected items.
In a statement released Oct. 4 , Johnston County Hams released the following:
“Safety is a top priority for Johnston County Hams and we have issued a voluntary recall of our ready-to-eat deli loaf ham products. We are recalling the products listed below:
- Varying weights “Johnston County Hams, Inc. Country Style Fully Cooked Boneless Deli Ham.”
- Varying weights “Ole Fashioned Sugar Cured The Old Dominion Brand Hams Premium Fully Cooked Country Ham”
- Varying weights “Padow’s Hams & Deli, Inc. Fully Cooked Country Ham Boneless Glazed with Brown Sugar.”
- Varying weights “Premium Fully Cooked Country Ham Less Salt Distributed By: Valley Country Hams LLC”
- Varying weights “Goodnight Brothers Country Ham Boneless Fully Cooked.
We are deeply saddened to hear of the link between our products and consumer injuries. We are committed to identifying the root cause and taking proper corrective actions in close collaboration with the USDA and CDC. In addition, we have notified our distribution partners and will continue efforts to notify the public.”
The recalls quickly spread to other companies using Johnson County Ham products including Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods and Ladyfingers Caterers.
On Oct. 4, Callie’s Charleston Biscuits voluntarily recalled two frozen products and released a statement reiterating their commitment to quality:
“At the core of our business is making sure that our customers and community are receiving the best possible products. We have a plan in place that we were hoping to never use. We acted immediately with every possible precaution to ensure the safety of our customers. To our loyal retailers, we have a contingency plan in place and do not foresee any major disruptions in our service.”
The same day, Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods also announced the recall of 18,296 pounds of product related to the Johnston County recall. More than two dozen wraps, pinwheels and salad products were included.
Although no illnesses were reported, they released a statement following the recall:
“The safety of those who consume our products is our highest priority. As soon as we learned of the supplier recall, we immediately communicated with our retail partners so that impacted items could be removed from store shelves. We are now working to ensure that fresh products will be back in stores as soon as possible.”
A day later, Ladyfingers Caterers recalled all Signature Shaved Country Ham Rolls. One associated illness was reported, but no official statement was released.
A holiday favorite found anywhere from Costco to Amazon.com, most Johnston County Ham products are currently unavailable as they work to restart the 10 to 14-month-long ham-curing process.