FDA Investigates Listeria Outbreak Linked to Frozen Vegetables

The FDA, CDC and state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis identified in March 2016.

The CDC reports that eight people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from three states (California, Maryland and Washington) from September 2013 – March 2016. Ill people ranged in age from 56 to 86, with a median age of 76. Epidemiology and laboratory evidence available at this time indicates that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington, and sold under various brand names are one likely source of illnesses in this outbreak. As discussed further below, CRF Frozen Foods has initiated a recall of certain products.

As part of a routine product sampling program the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected packages of frozen vegetable products from a retail location and isolated Listeria monocytogenes from True Goodness by Meijer brand frozen organic white sweet cut corn and frozen organic petite green peas. Both products were produced by CRF Frozen Foods.

Whole genome sequencing showed that the Listeria monocytogenes isolate from the frozen corn was closely related genetically to seven bacterial isolates from ill people, and the Listeria monocytogenes isolate from the frozen peas was closely related genetically to one isolate from an ill person. This close genetic relationship provides additional evidence that the people in this outbreak became ill from eating frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods.

Based on the positive findings by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, on April 22, 2016, CRF recalled 11 frozen vegetable products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. On May 2, 2016, following a conversation between FDA, CDC and the firm, CRF Frozen Foods expanded its recall to include all of its frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods’ Pasco facility since May 1, 2014. Approximately 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands were recalled.

Additionally, March 2016 environmental samples collected by FDA from Oregon Potato Company, located in Pasco, WA, were found to be closely related genetically to seven of the isolates of ill people associated with this outbreak. Based on this information, Oregon Potato Company voluntarily recalled wholesale onion products, which led to subsequent downstream customer recalls, one disclaimer icon of which publicly disclosed Oregon Potato Company as its product source. FDA is working to identify other parts of the relevant supply chain that may have product relating to this outbreak.

(Source: FDA website)

Food recalls in EU – Week 23 – 2014

This week on the RASFF database (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we have two recalls from consumers in EU in the information for attention notifications:

– Foreign bodies: glass fragments in sliced bamboo, following company’s own check. Origin China, notified by Germany;

– Heavy metals: cadmium in frozen whole squids, following a border control. Origin Argentina, notified by France.

Between the alert notifications, followed by a withdrawal from the market of the product, we find:

– Heavy metals: mercury in food supplement, following an official control on the market. Origin Netherlands, notified by Sweden;

– Food additives and flavorings: undeclared sulphitesin organic dried dates, following an official control on the market. Origin Tunisia (via Germany), notified by Poland; 

– Pathogenic micro organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in chilled smoked salmon, following an official control on the market. Origin Denmark, notified by Denmark.

Amongst border rejections we have Bacillus cereus in red beancurd sauce from China, Salmonella spp. in frozen poultry preparation from Brazil and in paan leaves from India, aflatoxins in groundnuts and peanuts from India, in corn from Argentina and in groundnuts kernels without shell from India, shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli in frozen sheep meat and lamb meat from New Zealand, high content of aluminium in noodles from China (via Hong Kong), absence of certified analytical report and of Common Entry Document (CED) for melon seeds from Nigeria and for paan leaves from India, quinalphos in peppers from Sri Lanka and clofentezine in peppers and fresh peppers from Turkey, methoxyfenozide in grape leaves in brine from Turkey, unauthorised substance dichlorvos in oloyin beans from Nigeria, carbendazim in parboiled basmati rice from Pakistan, buprofezin and imidacloprid in oolong tea from China, chlorpyriphos, buprofezin, acetamiprid and imidacloprid in green tea from China, poor temperature control – rupture of the cold chain – of frozen pandalid shrimps and frozen sardins from Morocco, of frozen tuna from New Zealand and of frozen skipjack Tuna from Cape Verde, damaged packaging of chilled greater amberjack from Tunisia, mercury in chilled sea beam from Egypt, parasitic infestation with Anisakis of silver scabbardfish from Morocco.

For feed, we have an alert notification, followed by a withdrawal from the market:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella in larynx of horse, following an official control on the market. Origin Poland, notified by Sweden.

For food contact materials we have border rejections for migration of lead from enamel trays and migration of formaldehyde from melamine bowl soccer 2014 from China.

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