Understanding the Listeria Outbreak
Are your Frozen Fruits and Vegetables Safe?
For better or worse, frozen foods are a big part of the American diet. Premade dinners usually come to mind, but other people turn to frozen fruits and vegetables for their long keep time, convenience, and prices. According to Statista, Americans spent about 4.8 billion dollars on frozen fruits and vegetables in this year, which helps put the demand in perspective. However, now a widespread recall across several brands is fueling fears around Listeria outbreak that has been traced as far back as 2013.
Listeria is a serious infection that comes from consuming a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes according to the CDC. Although it is unusual to find food contaminated with Listeria, if you do run into it, it’s very dangerous. The CDC warns that among food poisoning, Listeriais the third leading cause of death.
What are the symptoms?
- Muscle aches
- An infection that moves outside the gastrointestinal tract
However, exact symptoms vary individually. For pregnant women, the illness can be especially dangerous to their child.
Who is at risk?
Although many people will get food poisoning, recover, and never even know they had Listeria, the CDC warns that some people are especially at risk, with as many as 90 percent of cases occurring in these groups:
- pregnant women
- people with poor immune systems
- people over 65
These people are especially at risk because their immunity tends to be lower, and so are more susceptible to developing an infection.
What you need to know about the outbreak and recall?
This outbreak is particularly unsettling because most recommendations to avoid food poisoning and Listeriahave to do with washing foods properly and making sure to cook meats thoroughly. However, most people would assume the pre-cooked frozen vegetables they’re buying were already handled and stored safely.
Which frozen fruits and vegetables are affected?
The FDA announced that about 358 products by 42 different brands have been recalled. However, it seems like the source of the outbreak has been narrowed down to CRF’s Pasco facility, which voluntarily recalled all its organic and traditionally grown frozen fruits and vegetables according to NPR. These foods were sold all across the U.S., so everyone should be cautious and check their frozen food packaging to make sure they don’t have some of the recalled products.
Some other products may have been affected as well. CRF sold their vegetables to Ajinomoto Windsor, a frozen meal producer that makes pre-made Asian and Latin American meals writes Oregon Live. This company is also recalling two years’ worth or 47 million pounds, of its meat and poultry products in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico says the Chicago Tribune.
How can I tell if my frozen food is part of the recall?
The foods at risk for Listeria have a best by date between April 26, 2016, and April 26, 2018, says the FDA. Some of the brands that are part of the recall include By bee’s, Columbia River Organics, Farmer’s Bounty, Organic by Nature, and many others. To see a complete list of all 42 brands and which products were recalled see the FDA’s list.
Who has been affected so far?
According to NPR, so far 8 people have contracted Listeria from the 2016 outbreak.
What is being done?
Aside from the voluntary recall, the factory in Pasco, Washington has been shut down for inspection. The Chicago Tribune also points out that the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 is still taking effect, but once it’s fully implemented it will better regulate food supply chains to, hopefully, prevent outbreaks in the first place. Another factor that is already helping is the CDC’s new tracking tool, which helps track genomes and better identify outbreaks says NPR.
Should you be concerned?
Although Listeria is potentially dangerous, as long as you check your frozen goods, there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. If you realize you’ve bought one of the recalled products, you should throw it away or return it. For now, just be conscious about your frozen fruits and vegetables and keep up to date on the recall updates, which have been expanding in the last few weeks.
Although you might be tempted just to steer clear of frozen fruits and vegetables in general until the issue gets sorted out, there’s probably no need to stop buying frozen goods altogether. The CRF factory was affected, but there are many other frozen fruit and vegetable producers that don’t have anything to do with the outbreak. Frozen foods like these are an important part of many American’s diets and often make it easier to follow healthy eating plans because they are so easy to prepare when compared to fresh produce. However, if you’re still concerned, there’s no harm in switching to fresh fruits and vegetables for now.
Vaileria Dennis is a Beauty, Health and fitness expert, having 10 years of experience in Beauty industry and providing healthy living tips. She is also passionate about fitness, women’s issues and more. In recent years, she has had an opportunity to learn about Food and Nutrition. She always excited to share her ideas related to beauty tips, healthy food recipes, and diet plans. Join Vaileria on Twitter, Facebook and G+