Consumers warned to not eat CRF frozen fruit and vegetable products

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urge consumers to check their packages of frozen vegetables and do not eat any produced or packaged by the CRF company. More information on package identification is offered below.

BALTIMORE — The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is warning consumers not to eat frozen fruits and vegetable products from the CRF Frozen Foods Company because of potential contamination with Listeria bacteria. Listeria are bacteria that can be found in dust, soil, water, sewage and in the environment. Listeria can contaminate frozen food and survive over an extended period of time with long shelf lives of up to a few years.

Since March 2016, Health and Mental Hygiene has been working with several state health departments, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multi-state outbreak of Listeria infections.
Eight cases of listeriosis in 3 states have been identified through whole genome sequencing, a form of “DNA fingerprinting,” as being closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection, such as a contaminated food. Listeria isolated from implicated products tested at CRF Frozen Foods, based in Pasco, Wash., have been found to be closely genetically related to the isolates from ill people. There has been one associated Maryland case in an adult who was hospitalized and who subsequently died. Listeriosis is not considered to be the cause of death for this case-patient.

On April 23, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods recalled 11 frozen vegetable products because they may be contaminated with Listeria. On May 2, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods expanded the initial 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. All affected products have “best by” dates or “sell by” dates between April 26, 2016 and April 26, 2018.

These include approximately 358 consumer products packaged and sold under 42 separate brands. These products have been distributed to some provinces in Canada and to all states in the U.S., including to stores in Maryland. Affected brands include those store brands sold at Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Safeway, Costco, and others. The complete list of products can be found on the FDA’s website: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm498841.htm.

Listeriosis is a life-threatening invasive infection caused by eating Listeria –contaminated food. The disease primarily affects pregnant women and their newborns, older adults, and persons with immune systems weakened by cancer, cancer treatments, or other serious conditions (like diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease, and HIV/AIDS). A person with listeriosis generally has fever and muscle aches and can have a bloodstream infection or meningitis. Although people can sometimes develop listeriosis up to 2 months after eating contaminated food, symptoms usually start within several days, often with diarrhea. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Anyone suspecting listeriosis should contact their healthcare provider.

Symptoms may vary depending on the health status of the person and severity of the illness:
• Higher-risk persons: Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.

• Pregnant women: Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other non-specific symptoms. However, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

• Healthy persons: Healthy persons rarely develop invasive listeriosis but can experience a milder illness with fever and diarrhea.

Due to the products’ long shelf lives, consumers should check their freezers for these products and discard them in a way where no one else can eat them or should take the products back to the place of purchase for a refund. For more information about these products, please contact CRF Frozen Foods Consumer Hotline at 844-551-5595, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm (Pacific Standard Time). Health and Mental Hygiene will continue to monitor the status of this recall and will provide updates accordingly.

More information about Listeria can be found at the Health and Mental Hygiene website at http://goo.gl/20L6YX.

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