Millions of packages of frozen fruit and vegetables were recalled nationwide earlier this month, but authorities are concerned that people still have the offending products lurking in their freezers.
The recall dates back to food sold since May 1, 2014, and involves more than 300 products sold under 42 different brand names. The recall includes both organic and traditional foods.
“Unquestionably, this is a lot of product. … It reflects the severity of listeria as an illness, the long duration of illnesses and the outbreak and the long shelf life of the products,” said Matthew Wise, who leads the outbreak response team at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via The Associated Press.
Washington-based manufacturer, CRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, closed its plant on April 25—after the initial recall on April 23, which included 11 frozen vegetable products potentially contaminated with Listeria.
The second recall on May 2 increased the scope to around 358 products sold nationwide and in Canada. The FDA has a full list here.
Listeria can cause a serious, and fatal disease. The most vulnerable are pregnant women, adults older than 65, and people 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,” according to the Federal Drug Administration.
The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) published an advice sheet for consumers, which includes a guide for disposing of the products.
What should you do if you ate recalled products? The CDC recommends the following:
- If you have eaten recalled products and do not have any symptoms, most experts believe that tests or treatment are not needed, even for people at higher risk for listeriosis.
- People who develop symptoms of listeriosis after eating possibly contaminated products should consider seeking medical care and telling a healthcare provider about eating that product. Although people can sometimes develop listeriosis up to 2 months after eating contaminated food, symptoms usually start within several days.
Eight people have been hospitalized with Listeria so far, with two deaths reported—although listeriosis was not considered to be a cause of death for either person, according to the CDC.
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods are one likely source of illness in this outbreak, according to the CDC.
“Investigations are ongoing to determine if food sources used to manufacture CRF Frozen Foods products could explain some of the illnesses,” the CDC states.