Could involve food processed as early as 2014The initial recall started April 22, covering 11 frozen vegetable products. On May 2, CRF expanded it to include all of its frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed at its Washington plant since May 1, 2014. Thanks to recently developed whole-genome sequencing of food-contaminating bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration and CDC found that the Listeria bacteria found in the blood of a person sickened in 2013 is genetically similar to the Listeria tied to the recall.
Products were both packaged for sale as individual products and repackaged by places like Piggly Wiggly, Kroger and ConAgra foods as ingredients in a host of other store-brand and private-label products for stores like Trader Joe's and Costco. Also, retailers including Target and regional distributors such as Midwest grocery chain Hy-Vee Foods have recently recalled products made by Tokyo-based Ajinomoto Windsor due to the company recalling 70 of its Asian variety products that contain CRF vegetables — about 47 million pounds worth — some of which were also sold in Canada and Mexico.
"Listeriosis always makes us worry because it's such a serious infection."
Agencies track genetic makeup of bacteriaThe FDA and CDC have developed a system to track the genetic makeup of salmonella, Listeria and E.coli. Once a food-related illness outbreak is identified, scientists can match the DNA from contaminated food with the bacteria making people sick and potentially trace it to the originating food processing plant. In this outbreak, of those eight who were sick, six were in California. The two people who died were from Maryland and Washington.
Contamination level may not be highAuthorities say it's unclear why there are not more illnesses from Listeria. Wise said that the levels of Listeria contamination might not be high or may be uneven in the packaged vegetables. Also, the vegetables in the recall are typically cooked before they're eaten, which would kill the bacteria. The CDC continues to monitor state illness reports for any sign of additional cases, Wise said. Listeria causes an estimated 1,600 cases illnesses each year in the U.S., but just half are reported. About 18 per cent of Listeriosis patients die. FDA spokeswoman Lauren Sucher said it's important to follow label directions for cooking frozen foods and to check freezers thoroughly for the products listed on the FDA website.
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