Food

FDA Investigated Listeria Outbreak Linked to Frozen Vegetables

July 15, 2016

On this page:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state, and local officials, investigated listeriosis linked to frozen vegetables.

Update:
The FDA facilitated the recall of at least 456 products related to this outbreak. CRF Frozen Foods recalled 358 products and at least 98 other products were recalled by firms that received CRF- recalled products. On July 15, 2016, CDC declared the outbreak investigation over.

What was the Problem and What was Done About It?

The FDA, CDC, state, and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis identified in March 2016.

The CDC reports that nine people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from four states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington) from September 2013 to May 2016. Ill people ranged in age from 56 to 91, with a median age of 76. Epidemiology and laboratory evidence indicated that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington, and sold under various brand names are one likely source of illnesses in this outbreak. As discussed further below, CRF Frozen Foods initiated a recall of certain products.

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 monocytogenes from True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic white sweet cut corn and frozen organic petite green peas. Both products were produced by CRF Frozen Foods.

Whole genome sequencing showed that the Listeria monocytogenes isolated from the frozen corn was closely related genetically to eight bacterial isolates from ill people, and the Listeria monocytogenes isolate from the frozen peas was closely related genetically to one isolate from another ill person. This close genetic relationship provides additional evidence that the people in this outbreak became ill from eating frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods.

Based on the positive findings by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, on April 22, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods ceased production at its Pasco, WA facility and recalled 11 frozen vegetable products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. On May 2, 2016, following a conversation between FDA, CDC, and the firm, CRF Frozen Foods expanded its recall to include all of its frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in its Pasco facility since May 1, 2014. Approximately 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands were recalled. Recalled products were sold nationwide and in the following Canadian Provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of recalled product samples collected from ill people in California and Idaho revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes matching the outbreak strain.

Additionally, March 2016 environmental samples collected by FDA from Oregon Potato Company, located in Pasco, WA, were found to be closely related genetically to eight of the isolates of ill people associated with this outbreak. Based on this information, Oregon Potato Company voluntarily recalled wholesale onion products, which led to subsequent downstream customer recalls, one disclaimer icon of which publicly disclosed Oregon Potato Company as its product source. FDA worked to identify other parts of the relevant supply chain and facilitated recalls where necessary. However, FDA is prohibited by law from releasing publicly certain information about supply chains, which may constitute confidential commercial information.

The FDA facilitated the recall of at least 456 products related to this outbreak. CRF Frozen Foods recalled 358 products and at least 98 other products were recalled by firms that received CRF-recalled products. For a complete list of recalls linked to CRF Frozen Foods, see http://www.foodsafety.gov/recalls/recent/listeria.html.

On July 15, 2016, CDC declared the outbreak investigation over.

back to top

What are the Symptoms of Listeriosis?

Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. Anyone who experiences fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, or develops fever and chills while pregnant after eating any of the recalled products listed below, should seek medical care and tell their health care provider about eating the potentially contaminated frozen vegetables. Symptoms can appear from a few days up to a few weeks after consumption of the contaminated food.

back to top

Who is at Risk?

Listeriosis can be fatal, especially in certain high-risk groups. These groups include the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions (such as cancer). In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.

back to top

What Specific Products were Recalled?

On April 22, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods recalled 11 frozen vegetable products because they may be contaminated with Listeria. On May 2, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods expanded its recall to include all frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods’ Pasco facility since May 1, 2014. These products have “best by” dates of April 26, 2016, through April 26, 2018, and may have been purchased in all fifty U.S. states and the following Canadian Provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

The FDA facilitated the recall of at least 456 products related to this outbreak. CRF Frozen Foods recalled 358 products and at least 98 other products were recalled by firms that received CRF-recalled products. For a complete list of recalls linked to CRF Frozen Foods, see http://www.foodsafety.gov/recalls/recent/listeria.html.

Additionally, FDA has established a Major Product Recalls page for CRF Frozen Foods related recalls.

back to top

What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?

Retailers and restaurants should not serve or sell any of the recalled products and should dispose of them. If they do not know the source of their frozen vegetable products, they should check with the supplier.

Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where potentially contaminated products were stored.

Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store potentially contaminated products.

Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross-contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.

Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of cutting boards and utensils used in processing may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures in foods. Listeria can also cross-contaminate other food cut and served on the same cutting board or stored in the same area.

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators may wish to consider whether other foods available for sale could have been cross-contaminated from the potentially contaminated products, and should be discarded.

Firms who have re-labeled, re-packed, or used the recalled products to produce new products that have not received a thermal kill step should contact the FDA Recall Coordinator in your state to determine whether or not you should initiate a new recall of your product(s). FDA District Recall Coordinators for each state are listed at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/IndustryGuidance/ucm129334.htm).

back to top

What Do Consumers Need To Do?

The FDA urges consumers to not eat any of the recalled products and to check their homes for the recalled fruit and frozen vegetable products. CRF Frozen Foods directs any consumers who have purchased any of the recalled products to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund, or discard them.

Further, for frozen foods not listed in the recall, consumers should thoroughly cook them and follow microwave or conventional oven cooking instructions found on the package. Only thorough cooking will kill bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.  It is not recommended to cook recalled product because of the risk that bacteria from the recalled food could cross-contaminate the food preparation area and utensils.

Consumers should follow these simple steps:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; then dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator immediately and clean the refrigerator regularly.
  • Always wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitization process.

Additional recommendations for preventing listeriosis are available at the CDC Listeria website: http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/prevention.html.

back to top

Who Should be Contacted?

Consumers who have questions about the CRF Frozen Foods recall may call the company’s consumer hotline at 844-483-3866, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

The FDA also encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or to consult the fda.gov website: http://www.fda.gov.


Additional Information

back to top

Page Last Updated: 07/15/2016
Note: If you need help accessing information in different file formats, see Instructions for Downloading Viewers and Players.
Language Assistance Available: Español | 繁體中文 | Tiếng Việt | 한국어 | Tagalog | Русский | العربية | Kreyòl Ayisyen | Français | Polski | Português | Italiano | Deutsch | 日本語 | فارسی | English