Listeria Rears Its Ugly Head Again, This Time in Many Widely Distributed Frozen Food Brands

P is for — pathogen?
P is for — pathogen?
Photo by Rob aka Koocbor via Flickr Creative Commons

CRF Frozen Foods has issued a voluntary recall of massive proportions of frozen fruits and vegetables. The recall is getting some attention thanks in part to the fact that six of the products are packaged under the Trader Joe’s grocery store brand. That, however, is the merest tip of the iceberg — and only one of the many major stores and third parties that sold the products.

Fiesta Mart sold four of the recalled products under its own label. Some Whole Foods carry the Columbia River Organics brand. “Organic By Nature” is found at Costco. CRF Foods also supplied fast-food chain Panda Express with frozen carrots, peas and corn. Retail behemoth Walmart carried about a dozen CRF Foods products under its Great Value brand.

In total, approximately 358 products packaged under 42 different brand names are being recalled. There are two years’ worth of expiration dates affected as well. Products marked with “best by” or “sell by” dates ranging from April 26, 2016, to April 26, 2018, are to be discarded or returned to the point of purchase for a refund.

Columbia River Organics is one of the 42 different brands being recalled by CRF Frozen Foods. The product shown here was sold by some Whole Foods stores and is only one of more than 300 products distributed across the nation.EXPAND
Columbia River Organics is one of the 42 different brands being recalled by CRF Frozen Foods. The product shown here was sold by some Whole Foods stores and is only one of more than 300 products distributed across the nation.
Screenshot of Instacart web site by Phaedra Cook

According to CRF Frozen Foods’ press release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the company that the illnesses of seven people in three states have been linked to its products. Two of those people have died, and while the press release noted the listeria didn’t directly cause the deaths, there is no indication on whether it was an indirect contributor or what the cause actually was.

Listeria is much better known than it used to be, thanks in no small part to the contamination problem at multiple Blue Bell Ice Cream plants. It is a disturbingly hardy pathogen, thanks to its ability to survive in moist environments even at freezing temperatures.

Those who are most at risk of death are the young, the elderly and the frail. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea. If a pregnant woman contracts listeria, she may have only mild symptoms, but the baby is at high risk either before or shortly after birth.

Visit the CRF Frozen Foods website or the FDA website for a full list of all the recalled products. Consumers with concerns can call CRF Frozen Foods’ consumer hotline at 844-483-3866, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Standard Time.


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