Massive Frozen Vegetable Recall Linked To 2 Deaths, 8 Illnesses

Federal health and safety regulators have opened an investigation into a listeria outbreak related to the recent recall of more than 350 different varieties and brands of frozen vegetables after eight people from three states — two who later died — became infected with strains of the bacteria. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Food & Drug Administration, are collaborating with state health officials to investigate the outbreak that may have begun three years ago.

According to the CDC, eight people infected with the outbreak strains of listeria have been reported from Maryland, California, and Washington since September 13, 2013.

Two of the illnesses were reported in 2016. The remaining six illnesses were reported between 2013 and 2015, and were identified through a retrospective review of the PulseNet database.

The CDC reports that all eight people were hospitalized, including one from Maryland and one from Washington who died. However, officials say listeriosis was not considered to be a cause of death for either person.

Three of the eight ill people, or their caregivers, were interviewed by health officials using a questionnaire that asked about a variety of foods.

Two of these three people reported buying and eating frozen Organic by Nature brand frozen vegetables in the month before the illness began.

The CDC reports that listeria was first found in CRF products during a routine product-sampling program conducted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Officials with the Department collected packages of frozen vegetables from a retail location and found listeria contamination in True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic white sweet cut corn and from True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic petite green peas.

“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence available at this time indicates that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, WA and sold under various brand names are one likely source of illnesses in this outbreak,” the CDC says. “This is a complex, ongoing investigation, and updates will be provided when more information is available.”

Investigations are ongoing to determine if food sources used to manufacture CRF Frozen products could explain some of the illnesses.

“CDC and state and local public health partners are continuing laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify additional ill people and to interview them,” the CDC says.

The massive recall of CRF Frozen-produced vegetables began last week when the company announced that 15 frozen vegetable products sold at Costco and Meijer may contain listeria.

CRF suspended operations at its Pasco facility following the initial voluntary recall, so a thorough review could be conducted.

Since then, CRF revised the initiative, recalling all frozen fruits and vegetables processed at its plant in Pasco, WA since May of 2014. That includes 358 different varieties of frozen fruits and veggies sold under 42 brand names at major retailers, including Walmart, Safeway, BJ’s, Costco, Aldi, and Meijer, in all 50 states.

If you have any questions about a product that you’ve purchased or about the recall in general, call CRF Frozen Foods at 844-483-3866. You can also e-mail CRF8364@stericycle.com.

Here are the brands that you should look for in your freezer. If you identify any of them, check the item against the FDA’s recall list. Unfortunately, there isn’t really any way to simplify checking, with almost 350 different products involved.

  • Bybee’s
  • C.H. Belt’s
  • Chef Maxwell
  • Columbia River Organics
  • Correct Choice
  • Earth’s Pride
  • Emerald Farms
  • Endico
  • Farmer’s Bounty
  • Fiesta Mart
  • Great Value (Walmart)
  • The Inn
  • James Farm
  • Kirkland Signature (Costco)
  • Life Foods
  • Live Smart
  • Mity Fresh
  • Mountain Mist
  • Northwest Growers Select
  • Organic by Nature (Costco)
  • Parade
  • O Organics (Safeway)
  • Overhill Farms
  • Panda Express
  • Pantry Essentials (Safeway)
  • Price First (Walmart)
  • Quirch
  • Safeway Kitchens
  • Schwan’s
  • Season’s Choice (Aldi)
  • Simply Nature (Aldi)
  • Trader Joe’s
  • True Goodness (Meijer)
  • USDA Bulk Packs
  • VIP
  • Wellsley Farms (BJ’s)
  • Wild Oats
  • Veggie Maria