CDC announced on 15 July, 2016, that the Listeria outbreak which initiated in September 2013 is now over. CDC collaborated with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several public health officials from several states to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis).
According to the FDA, the frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington, were likely the cause of this infectious outbreak. The vegetables were sold under various brand names. In total, at least 456 products were recalled under the supervision of FDA.
CRF Frozen Foods recalled 358 products and 98 products were recalled by the firms that received frozen products from the CRF.
FDA reports that after a routine product sampling program, the Ohio Department of Agriculture checked the packages of frozen vegetable products from a retail location and found out Listeria monocytogenes in them. The two products, ‘True Goodness by Meijer Brand Frozen Organic White Sweet Cut Corn’ and ‘Frozen Organic Petite Green Peas’ were produced by CRF Frozen Foods.
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On April 23, 2016, FDA notified about the voluntary recall of 15 frozen vegetable items of CRF Company that were potentially contaminated with Listeria. The products were distributed between September 2015 and March 2016 among many states of US in addition to British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan of Canada. At that time no illness was reported due to consumption of these frozen items.
However, CDC confirms that this multistate outbreak of Listeria affected nine people belonging from four US states since September 13, 2013. All the infected people were hospitalized and three deaths were reported but only one casualty from Connecticut was linked with Listeriosis.
The healthcare authority, CDC, decided to expand the initial recall and as of May 2, 2016, the recall was announced for all the organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products processed by the CRF Company in Pasco, Washington, facility since May 1, 2014. As a result of this recall more than 350 products sold under 42 brands names were withdrawn from the market. Moreover, approximately 100 other products prepared by other independent companies that contained recalled ingredients from CRF Frozen Foods were also withdrawn from the markets. The products that were subject to recall were distributed in 50 US states in addition to four provinces of Canada.
CDC announced that although the outbreak investigation is over, people might still become sick after consuming the products that are available in their freezers and some of the people who still do not know about the recalls could end up eating them. Therefore, CDC recommends against consuming any such frozen vegetables and fruit products if still present in the freezers of the consumers or retail outlets or restaurants to prevent the listeriosis based illnesses and infections.
Listeriosis is a rare but serious infection caused by the bacterial strain Listeria monocytogenes. It occurs mostly after consumption of food contaminated by the bacterium. According to the FDA, the major symptoms of the illness are fever, diarrhea, muscle aches, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms appear after few days of eating the contaminated food and may last up to a few weeks if proper treatment is not availed.
Moreover, it has been observed that the elderly people, children and pregnant women in addition to people with weakened immune systems and other serious medical conditions such as cancer, are more susceptible of developing the disease. FDA notifies that listeriosis can also cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.
Therefore, CDC, FDA and other leading healthcare authorities advise proper sanitization of freezers, cutting boards and display areas, especially at the restaurants to ensure complete prevention from the infections. Similarly, the FDA urges to properly cook the food products as thorough cooking is the only way to kill bacteria that can cause the foodborne illness.