Dion’s Deli Food Poisoning Attorney
Prominent Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Dion’s restaurant was the subject of a recent health alert issued by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Dion’s is one of New Mexico’s largest food chains, with over 23 restaurants in three states, including, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. The cities include: Colorado Springs, Colorado; Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Los Lunas, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Lubbock, Texas. The public health alert has prompted a food recall for potential Listeria contamination pertaining to food products served at Dion’s locations.
Public Health Alert
On January 6, 2017, the FSIS alerted the public that, after routine testing, Listeria contamination was discovered on the food preparation equipment surfaces. FSIS issued the following statement concerning the inspection:
“The problem was discovered through routine testing conducted as part of the Peter DeFries Corporation’s Listeria testing program. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider… Consumers who have purchased these products from Dion’s restaurants are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase…”
Reports confirm that the potentially contaminated meats – ham, turkey, roast beef and pastrami – were featured in pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. The meats subject to the alert were produced by Peter DeFries Corporation, Dion’s New Mexico based parent entity. The Peter DeFries Corporation produced the meats between December 14, 2016 and December 29, 2016. Dion’s served the products potentially in all 23 of their restaurants between December 14, 2016 and January 4, 2017. On its Facebook page, Dion’s representatives confirmed that the affected products were most likely sent to all of their locations. Although none of the meats tested during FSIS’s inspection were positive for Listeria, it is likely that previously sold food products may have still been contaminated.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Herman confirmed that Dion’s and Peter DeFries Corporation is working in conjunction with the FSIS to investigate the source of the contamination. Mr. Herman issued the following statement in their recent press release:
“Food safety is our No. 1 priority. We are currently serving safe, high-quality pre-sliced products from our normal vendors…We are working with our partners at the USDA to resume our in-house deli meat slicing operation.”
Dion’s restaurants also posted the alert on their Facebook with the following statement:
“Food safety is our number one priority and out of an abundance of caution, we have worked with our partners at the USDA to issue a public safety alert for sliced deli meats. We understand this is concerning. We are committed to our customers and have taken further steps to ensure we are serving safe food.”
The company is urging anyone who believes that they ate potentially contaminated products and subsequently became ill to contact their hotline at 505-515-2660. Further, any patrons who may still have food products containing the potentially compromised deli meat from Dion’s should discard it or return it. Consumers should not eat any products subject to the recall timeframe.
The companies and FSIS have not mentioned in any release whether the affected restaurants have been properly sanitized and decontaminated. Representatives for Dion’s and Peter DeFries Corporation also have not mentioned what additional steps it is making at this time to investigate the source of the contamination or ensuring that future issues of this kind are prevented in the future.
The New Mexico Department of Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the City of Lubbock Health Department have not issued any announcements of confirmed Listeria cases or involvement in the FSIS investigations. However, a large number of customers have complained of illnesses on Dion’s social media page. It is unknown at this time if Dion’s and Peter DeFries Corporation are providing this information to the FSIS. Details surrounding this recall are ongoing.
FSIS cautions the public that eating and ingesting food that is contaminated with Listeria could lead to Listeriosis. This serious, and potentially deadly, infection causes approximately 1600 reported illnesses each year, resulting in almost 300 deaths. Listeria also has a long history of being linked to deli meats. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FoodSafety.gov confirm that Listeriosis is rare, but also one of the most dangerous of all foodborne illnesses.
With an incubation period of anywhere from 3 to 70 days, many victims may simply assume their symptoms are the flu.
The elderly, the very young, those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women are at the most risk for a severe Listeria infection. Symptoms of Listeriosis can be mild, flu-like in nature. They may also include: fever, nausea, fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, diarrhea, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. The infection can turn invasive and spread outside of the gastrointestinal tract, causing further illnesses like sepsis and meningitis. Pregnant women are very susceptible to Listeriosis, and may only show mild symptoms. However, Listeriosis can potentially cause miscarriages, still births, or premature delivery of their fetuses. Fetuses can also contract life-threatening infections and have potentially life-long health problems.
Listeria is found through a routine series of tests. A blood test or spinal fluid test may also be ordered by the health care provider to confirm the diagnosis. An early diagnosis of Listeria and immediate medical care may help stop the illness from becoming invasive. Typically, health care providers treat more severe confirmed cases of Listeriosis with antibiotics and supportive care. In healthy adults, usually minimal treatments are needed. In newborns, a combination of antibiotics may be used, depending on the severity of the infection.
As always, if you or someone you love are showing signs or symptoms of Listeriosis or have recently eaten food from any of Dion’s restaurants, immediate medical attention is recommended. The USDA recommends informing your health care provider that you may have eaten contaminated food.
We at Robins Cloud LLP are actively investigating this recall and the details involved. If you or someone you love has become ill after eating food products from Dion’s restaurants or has been otherwise injured, please contact our office at 855-969-5637 for a free confidential consultation.