Listeria in frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington has sickened at least eight people in three states since September 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All eight people were hospitalized and two people died, although listeriosis was not considered to be the cause of death for either of them, the CDC said.
Epidemiologic and laboratory investigations show frozen vegetables produced by CRF and sold under various brand names are a likely source of this outbreak. The company has issued a recall for 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands.
Consumers are urged to check their freezers for these products. Anyone who has purchased a recalled product should not eat it as Listeria can cause serious illness and death.
Symptoms of a Listeria infection can take as long as 70 days to develop. They include: nausea and diarrhea followed by fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and muscle aches. Young children, seniors, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk for Listeria infections. Among pregnant women, Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and illness in newborns.
The outbreak was discovered in March 2016, according to the CDC. Health officials used genetic testing to identify case patients and then conducted interviews with three of those sickened that included food histories. Two of the three people reported eating frozen vegetables during the month before they became ill. Both ate the Organic by Nature brand frozen vegetables which are produced by CRF and now part of the recall.
“During the same time period, as part of a routine product-sampling program, the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected packages of frozen vegetable products from a retail location and isolated Listeria from True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic white sweet cut corn and from True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic petite green peas,” the CDC report states. Those product are both produced by CRF Frozen Foods. Genetic analysis of the Listeria monocytogenes strain isolated from the vegetables shows it is closely related to the strains isolated from those sickened.
CRF issued a recall on April 23, 2016 and expanded the recall May 2, 2016. The recalled items were sold nationwide and in Canada. The investigation is ongoing.