The first time this Washington based food packaging company made voluntary recall for its products, it was limited to just 11 products. But now the recall has been expanded to almost 360 different frozen fruits and veggies, both organic and non-organic. The products are expected to be contaminated with the lethal Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.
The outbreak was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has had already hospitalized 8 people in 3 states and 2 out of them (1 from Maryland and 1 from Washington) have already died. The CDC doesn’t think that the deaths were due to listeriosis. The third state is California.
The frozen fruit and veggie products are from 42 different brands. According to sources, they were packaged at Pasco, Washington’s CRF Frozen Foods. The products were available at popular grocery stores including Costco and Trader Joe’s. They have been sold not just in all the 50 U.S. states but also in certain parts of Canada.
According to Bill Marler, who is a Washington based personal injury and product liability attorney, because these recalled frozen produce have very long shelf life, and it is highly likely that consumers may have bought them long time ago. They may not even know that the products are there in their homes.
You can check the full list of these recalled products on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm498841.htm). Some of the produce on the list includes organic and non-organic (as per the news release by CRF Frozen Foods):
– Butternut squash
– Italian beans
– Green beans
– Lima beans
– Sweet potatoes
– Root medley
– Pepper strips
– Potato medley
– Different vegetable medleys
– Vegetable blends
– Stir fry packages
The release also has an apology from CRF Frozen Foods for the inconvenience or concern due to the “expanded recall.” The release was made for alerting consumers to prevent them from eating the products. It is asked of the consumers to return any of these products back to the store from where they bought them and get a refund or to just discard the products.
The CDC reports that Listeria monocytogenes are mostly found in water and soil. But the bacterium could be carried by animals and they don’t seem to fall ill. This can cause contamination of foods having animal origin. This includes dairy products and meats.
Once Listeria bacteria enters a food processing factory, they could survive for years. At times they can contaminate food products.
This is a serious infection which is caused when you consume food that is contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The CDC reports that it will mainly target the newborn, elderly, pregnant women, and adults who have compromised immune system.
Pregnant women having Listeria can suffer premature delivery, miscarriages or can have life-threatening infections in their newborn.
It can be identified by symptoms like diarrhea, muscle aches, and fever. The infection can prove to be deadly when the infection is left untreated.
The series of recalls started when 11 frozen vegetable products were first recalled by the packaging company on April 23. The second recall came this week when all the products processed at this particular facility since 1st May 2014 were recalled.
Not only that, the Pasco facility operations were shut down on April 25 for a review.
The CDC first recognized the outbreak back in March. Many people were reported to be ill after taking Organic by Nature brand of frozen veggies. It is a CRF Frozen Foods produced product.
It was during this time that the Ohio Department of Agriculture tested manage frozen veggie packages as part of their routine product-sampling program. But the department was taken aback to find Listeria in frozen organic petite green peas and white sweet cut corn. They were both of the True Goodness brand from Meijer. They were also produced by none else but CRF Frozen Foods.
On additional testing, the officials were able to find genetic relation between the Listeria from the ill patients and these food products. This almost confirmed the connection to CRF Frozen Foods.
Out of the 8 overall know cases, 6 were found in the period 2013-15.
The first case was discovered in Sept. 2013 and the latest on March 28 this year. Most of the victims are female and their age is in the group 56-86. All of them were hospitalized.
This is not the first time there has been Listeria outbreak in the U.S.
If you look at one of the most recognized outbreaks, it was in the year 2015. This was when there was an ice cream-product-recall by Blue Bell Creameries. The recall was initiated after 10 people became ill in 4 states, with 3 out of them dying. It was the first time a recall was made at this century-old company.
Then in January this year, it was Dole and its salad mixes. The recalled products were made at an Ohio processing facility. Those who took the greens became ill. There were 19 cases in 19 states and all of them were hospitalized. There was 1 death in Michigan and there was a case where the patient was a pregnant woman. The Public health Agency of Canada reported another 14 cases from across the border.
The list of Listeria cases in the past were related to contaminated raw ml, various cheese products, and prepackaged caramel apples.
When it comes to one of the biggest outbreaks, it was in 2011 in Colorado where the case was linked to bacteria-loaded cantaloupes from the Jensen Farms. There were a total of 147 cases with 33 people dying from the food-borne illness. 143 were hospitalized in 28 states. There was a pregnant woman who had a miscarriage.
On the CDC’s part, all they did was to call that frozen vegetable case as something “complicated.” According to them the investigation continues to be ongoing.
If you are a concerned consumer, you can call at CRF Frozen Foods’ hotline – 844-483-3866, as requested by the company.
Source: The Sacramento Bee