This week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced a huge recall on over 350 frozen vegetable and fruit items because of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Frozen green beans, broccoli, peas, edamame, kale, potato medley and even stir fry packages and fruits sold under 42 brands of U.S and Canadian store labels have been implicated.
At this time the CDC reports 8 people have been infected. Six in California and one in Maryland and Washington.
Listeria is a fairly rare but dangerous bacteria. A person with a good immune system can do fine, but it can cause severe sepsis and death if it enters the blood stream. Immune compromised, older people, infants, and pregnant women are most vulnerable. Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
Listeriosis causes muscle aches, fever, diarrhea and GI symptoms. Again, a healthy person can deal with it but it can cause rapid worsening with confusion and sepsis in older adults. There have been a number of outbreaks in the recent past in milk, cheese, ice-cream and even caramel apples. The largest outbreak was from cantaloupes in 2011. The current frozen vegetable outbreak has been tracked to CRF frozen foods packing plant in Pasco, Washington. Since May 1, 2016 approximately 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands were recalled.
What can you do? For now, I would advise you not to purchase frozen fruits or vegetables unless you know the source. Both organic and non-organic were involved. The affected products have the "best by" dates or "sell by" dates between April 26, 2016 and April 26,2018 so check what is in your freezer and toss them if these are the dates.