frozen food

A Pasco, Washington, company has expanded its recall of frozen fruits and vegetables linked to a listeria outbreak that has sickened eight people. This expanded recall of frozen vegetables includes all of the frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods’ Pasco facility since May 1, 2014. (pixabay.com photo)

SEATTLE, Wash. — In an important food recall alert of interest to the Indian American community — many of whom consume vegetarian foods — a Pasco, Wash., company has expanded its recall of frozen vegetables linked to a listeria outbreak that has sickened eight people.

“We are performing this voluntary recall in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes,” FDA said in a statement. “The organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.”

One person from Maryland and one from Washington have died but health officials do not consider listeria to be the cause of death for either person.

The Centers for Disease Control says the recall by CRF Frozen Foods began in April and was expanded May 2. The recall now includes all organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products processed in the company’s Pasco facility since May 1, 2014. All affected products have the “best by” dates or “sell by” dates between April 26, 2016 and April 26, 2018.

About 358 products like green beans, broccoli, peas and blueberries sold under 42 separate brands at grocers in the U.S. and Canada have now been recalled.

The products are sold in stores including Safeway, Costco and Trader Joe’s; brand names include O Organic, Pantry Essentials, Safeway Kitchens, Signature Kitchens, Trader Joe’s, Organic by Nature and Wild Oats.

The CDC says the listeria outbreak that started in September 2013 has sickened people in Washington, Maryland and California. Two illnesses were reported in 2016 and six were reported between 2013 and 2015. All eight people were hospitalized.

CRF had already suspended operations at its Pasco, Wash., facility as of April 25, 2016 following the initial voluntary recall, so a thorough review could be conducted, according to FDA.

Kaiser Health News adds:

Here are four things to know about listeria and the massive recall:

Listeria is deadly. Although much less common than other foodborne pathogens like salmonella or E. coli, listeria is the most lethal. Most healthy immune systems can keep an infection at bay, but if the bug makes it into the bloodstream, it causes listeriosis and kills 1 in 5 victims.

Listeria gets around — and stays around. The CDC said that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, Wash., are the “likely source” of the illnesses. Listeria has been known to plague ready-to-eat deli meats and soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, but it's popped up in surprising foods in recent years.

It's time for a freezer check. Check the UPC codes and “best by” dates on the vegetable packages in your freezer against the FDA’s list. If they match, you can return the recalled food to the store for a refund or simply discard it.

Either way, don’t eat the recalled foods. Listeria can be killed with proper cooking, but unless you're going to use a thermometer to make sure the foods reach 165 degrees F, it's best not to risk it.

If you did eat them and have symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions, seek medical care. Sometimes listeriosis symptoms develop up to two months after eating contaminated food, but they usually start within several days.

For a full list of brands and products that have been recalled, visit http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm498841.htm.

— With AP reports

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