As early as 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had evidence that Listeria was circulating in Dole’s Springfield, Ohio plant, which bags lettuce and other supposedly healthy meals. It took 18 months before Dole shut down and issued a recall. FDA figures Four people died and 33 were sickened in Canada and the U.S. from Listeria in the Dole products. Last week, attorneys for Dole denied responsibility in a wrongful death lawsuit linked to a listeria outbreak that has since been tied to its Springfield plant. The Dole legal thingies argued its product was not defective when it left the company’s Listeria-positive facility. “Any later defect was caused by a substantial alteration and change in the condition of the product by other parties over whom Dole had no control,” the company’s response states. The most recent case was filed when Ellen H. DiStefano, 79, of Franklin County, became ill on Jan. 17 after eating a salad she bought in Belmont County that was packaged in Springfield, according to the complaint. She was taken to a hospital, diagnosed with an infection caused by the listeria monocytogenes bacteria and died on Feb. 27, the complaint states. The case is one of two civil lawsuits pending against the Springfield manufacturer. The company has also denied responsibility for an incident in which a Warren County woman said her mother was left in a coma after eating salad tainted with listeria. That case is also pending in U.S. District Court. Given that level of legal swarminess, I wouldn’t touch the stuf.