Listeria Outbreak Forces Recall Of Over 300 Frozen Foods

An ongoing listeria outbreak was recently traced to a single company responsible for producing frozen fruits and vegetables.

Eight people have been infected with a similar strain of Listeria monocytogenes between September of 2013 and March of this year. The outbreak has been tracked through three states: California, Maryland, and Washington.

Although officials have been aware of the listeria outbreak since it’s onset in 2013, their investigation has only just found the source. At the beginning of this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a link between the listeria outbreak and frozen fruits/vegetables packaged at the Pasco, Washington, factory owned by CRF Frozen Foods.

At first, the investigation only linked the listeria outbreak to 11 frozen vegetable products packaged by CRF Frozen food. Those items were voluntarily pulled off the shelves by the company last April. Now, however, the CDC has found the listeria strain in many other products.

CRF Frozen Foods immediately halted production in their Pasco, Washington, factory and has issued a recall of 358 different products thought to have been exposed to the Listeria monocytogenes responsible for the outbreak.

Since listeria samples were found in various products from broccoli to kale to blueberries, the Food and Drug Administration believes that the contamination occurred somewhere in the factory.

On May 4, CRF Frozen Foods issued a press release containing an apology to all their customers, explaining the listeria contamination, offering a list of affected brands, explaining how to dispose of recalled items, and giving a brief idea of what to expect if one is affected by the listeria outbreak.

“As a precaution, CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington is expanding its voluntary recall of frozen organic and traditional fruits and vegetables. We are performing this voluntary recall in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes … This expanded recall of frozen vegetables includes all of the frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods’ Pasco facility since May 1, 2014. All affected products have the best by dates or sell by dates between April 26, 2016 and April 26, 2018… We apologize for any concern or inconvenience this expanded recall has caused our customers and consumers who enjoy our products. We are issuing this release to alert consumers not to eat these products. Consumers who purchased these products may return them to the store where they were purchased for a refund, or simply discard them … CRF had already suspended operations at its Pasco, Washington facility as of Monday morning, April 25, 2016”

It was reported that of the eight people affected by the listeria outbreak, two have died. Officials do not believe that listeria was the direct cause of the deaths.

It can take up to 70 days for symptoms of listeria to manifest after exposure. Usually, the symptoms are minor, but in elderly people, children, and those with compromised immune systems, listeria can become serious or even deadly. In pregnant women, listeria can cause stillbirths or miscarriages.

People affected by the listeria outbreak might expect to suffer from high fever, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, severe headaches, and diarrhea. Even though those symptoms may be minor, it is important that anyone believing they have been exposed to listeria see a doctor.

Products affected by the listeria contamination have been sold in all 50 states and some Canadian provinces. Those provinces include British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

For a full list of products recalled due to the possibility of listeria contamination, visit the CRF Frozen Foods recall press release.

[Image via Shuttertsock]