About 360 products may be contaminated with the deadly bacteria
They’re sold at popular grocery stores like Trader Joe's and
You may have purchased the frozen fruit and vegetables a while
A food packaging company in Washington state has expanded a
voluntary recall -- which at one time included just 11 products -
- to encompass nearly 360 different organic and non-organic
frozen fruits and vegetables that may be contaminated with the
deadly Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
announced the outbreak, which has hospitalized eight people
across three states. Two of those patients, one from Maryland
and the other from Washington state, died, though listeriosis
was not considered to be the cause, according to the CDC. The
other cases were reported in California.
The products in question are frozen fruits and vegetables from
42 different brands that were packaged at CRF Frozen Foods of
Pasco, Washington, and sold at popular grocery stores like
Trader Joe's and Costco in all 50 U.S. states and some parts of
"The long shelf life of the recalled frozen produce is of
particular concern because consumers could have purchased the
products long ago and not realize they have them in their
homes," Bill Marler, a personal injury and products liability
attorney from Washington, wrote in his blog on food poisoning
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a full list of
the recalled products on its website, which includes organic and
non-organic broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower,
corn, edamame, green beans, Italian beans, kale, leeks, lima
beans, onions, peas, pepper strips, potatoes, potato medley,
root medley, spinach, sweet potatoes, various vegetable medleys,
blends, and stir fry packages, blueberries, cherries,
cranberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries, according
to a CRF Frozen Foods news release.
"We apologize for any concern or inconvenience this expanded
recall has caused our customers and consumers who enjoy our
products," the news release said. "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."
"Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil and water,"
according to the CDC. "Animals can carry the bacterium without
appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin, such
as meats and dairy products. . ..When Listeria bacteria get into
a food processing factory, they can live there for years,
sometimes contaminating food products."
Listeria is a serious infection caused by consuming food
contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and
primarily affects the elderly, newborns, adults with compromised
immune systems and pregnant women, according to the CDC.
Listeria in pregnant women can lead to miscarriages, premature
delivery, stillbirth and life-threatening infections in newborns.
Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and diarrhea. If untreated,
the infection can be deadly.
The packaging company initially recalled 11 frozen vegetable
products on April 23, then expanded the recall this week to
include all products processed at the facility since May 1,
2014. Operations at the Pasco facility were suspended April 25
while a review is conducted.
The outbreak was first identified in March, according to the
CDC, when several ill people reported eating Organic by Nature
brand frozen vegetables, produced by CRF Frozen Foods.
Around that same time, the Ohio Department of Agriculture tested
several packages of frozen vegetables for a routine product-
sampling program, according to the CDC. The department found
Listeria in frozen organic white sweet cut corn and petite green
peas, both from the brand True Goodness by Meijer, which is
produced by CRF Frozen Foods.
After further testing, officials found that the food products
were related genetically to the Listeria found in the ill
patients, the CDC reported, providing a more concrete link to
CRF Frozen Foods.
Of the eight known cases, six were discovered between 2013 and
2015. The first was found in September 2013 and the most recent
was on March 28, 2016. The victims have all been between 56 and
86 years old and most are female. All were hospitalized.
Listeria outbreaks aren't uncommon in the United States.
One of the most well-known outbreaks came in 2015, when Blue
Bell Creameries recalled all of its ice cream products after 10
people across four states fell ill. Three people died. The
recall was the first it the company's more than 100-year history.
In January 2016, Dole recalled all salad mixes produced in an
Ohio processing facility after people who consumed the greens
fell ill. In total, 19 cases were reported across 19 states. All
19 people were hospitalized, and one person from Michigan died
from the infection. One case was reported in a pregnant woman.
An additional 14 cases were reported in Canada, according to the
Public Health Agency of Canada.
Past Listeria cases have included contaminated raw milk,
prepackaged caramel apples and several different cheese products.
One of the most deadly outbreaks involved bacteria ridden
cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado in 2011. The case
count climbed to 147, and the food-borne illness killed 33
people and hospitalized 143 people across 28 states. One woman,
who was pregnant when she fell ill, had a miscarriage.
The CDC called the frozen vegetable case "complicated" and said
the investigation is ongoing.
CRF Frozen Foods asked concerned consumers to call the company
hotline at 844-483-3866