Frozen vegetables under recall after being linked to a Listeria outbreak were sold at Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Meijer and other stores, according to information posted on company websites. The frozen vegetables were produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington. On May 2, the company issued a recall for 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands since 2014.
The brand names include Organic by Nature, True Goodness by Meijer, Bybee’s, Columbia River Organics, Northwest Growers Select, C.H. Belt’s, Chef Maxwell, Correct Choice, Earth’s Pride, Endico, Farmer’s Bounty, Fiesta Mart, The Inn, Live Smart, Parade, O Organics, Panda Express, Pantry Essentials, Safeway Kitchens, Signature Kitchens, Trader Joe’s, USDA, VIP, Wellsley Farms, JFDA, McCain, Mity Fresh, Mountain Mist, Overhill Farms, Veggie Maria, Life Foods, Emerald Farms, Great Value, James Farms, Kirkland Signature, Price First, Quirch, Seasons Choice, Simply Nature, True Goodness, Wild Oats and Woolworths.
At least eight people in three states have been sickened. Two people have died, although listeriosis was not considered to be the cause of death for either of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control an Prevention (CDC).
Health official urge consumers 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. Opened product should be photographed and then disposed of in a sealed plastic bag. Surfaces that the bag or vegetables have touched should be cleaned thoroughly followed by careful hand washing. Listeria is not killed by cold temperatures.
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.
Consumers who have eaten the recalled products and developed symptoms should see a doctor and report exposure to Listeria. A culture of a stool sample can determine if you are part of this outbreak. So far, six cases have been reported from California, and one each from Maryland and Washington.
Epidemiologic and laboratory investigations indicate that frozen vegetables produced by CRF and sold under various brand names are a likely source of this outbreak. Genetic testing has shown that the Listeria monocytogenes strain found in bags of frozen vegetables produced at the Pasco plant closely resembles the one cultured form sick patients.
Although the outbreak includes one patient sickened in 2013 and five people sickened in 2015, the outbreak was discovered in March 2016, according to the CDC. After genetic tests identified case patients, health officials conducted interviews with three of those sickened. Two of them reported eating frozen vegetables during the month before they became ill. Both ate the Organic by Nature brand frozen vegetables.
Separately, the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected packages of frozen vegetable products from a retail store and tested them for bacteria as part of a routine product-sampling program. Tests on True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic white sweet cut corn and from True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic petite green peas were positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The strain isolated from the vegetables is genetically a close relation to the strains isolated from those sickened. True Goodness by Meijer and Organic by Nature are both produced at CRF’s plant in Pasco.
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.