Ten days ago, the FDA announced an enormous recall of products containing frozen fruits and vegetables that were possibly contaminated with a strain of the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. So far, eight people across California, Washington, and Maryland have been affected, and in the wake of these outbreaks it’s important to know the symptoms of listeria. As they say, the best defense is a good offense, and taking a proactive attitude towards the recall can keep you safe.
The CRF Food Products frozen facilities located in Pasco, Washington, is said to be the source of the contamination. These possibly problematic organic and non-organic products including blueberries, green beans, and peas were distributed under 42 different brands to Trader Joe’s, Costco, BJs, Safeway, among others, according to the FDA. The voluntary recall is expansive covering all CRF’s 358 frozen fruit and vegetables, the FDA announced on May 2. The voluntary recall affects all CRF Frozen products with best buy dates between April 26, 2016 and April 26, 2018, which is a catchall for whatever products might have been shipped from their Frozen Foods facility since May 1, 2014.
For many Americans using frozen produce is a healthful way to get the recommended eight servings a day. But, you are going to want to double check the expiration on that package of Trader Joe's Chicken Fried Rice sitting in your freezer. You can view the complete list of recalled products here.
NPR reports that multiple outbreaks over the past six years have been popping up in unusual places. While one might expect to find the strain in contaminated deli meat or unpasteurized cheese, Listeria outbreaks have recently been linked to cantaloupe, caramel apples, and Blue Bell Creameries ice cream. The bacteria, which can grow even in cold temperatures, takes its toll as one of the deadliest strains. In the largest listeria outbreak in the United States, 147 people fell ill and 33 died in 2011.
Adults and children who are healthy usually only experience these mild symptoms when infected. The contamination is generally exhibited in flu-like symptoms, which include: fever, chills, headache and muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Listeriosis induced diarrhea usually lasts between one and four days (42 hours on average), which could leave you at risk of dehydration. Pregnant women, elderly people, and newborns are especially susceptible to Listeriosis. More severe symptoms may include septic shock, meningitis and encephalitis.
Listeriosis symptoms usually manifest within a few days — however, it could affect you up to two months after consuming contaminated food.
While Listeria can be killed by cooking the food until it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the FDA instructs that consumers not to eat recalled products. Instead, the FDA recommends that products be returned to the store where they were purchased for a refund, noting, "Consumers with questions may call the company's consumer hotline at 844-483-3866."
If you or someone you know shows any signs of "fever, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions," be sure to seek help from a healthcare professional.