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 19/2015

This week on the EU RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we can find the following notifications:

1. Alerts followed by a recall from consumers:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria monocytogenes (3500 CFU/g) in raw cow’s milk cheese from France, following company’s own check. Notified by France, distributed also to Germany and United Kingdom;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria monocytogenes (6000 CFU/g) in raw cow’s milk cheese from France, following food poisoning. Notified by France, distributed also to United Kingdom;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp. (presence/25g) in goat cheese made from raw milk from France, following company’s own check. Notified by France, distributed also to Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malta, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

2. Information for attention/for follow up followed by a recall from consumers:

– Composition: unauthorised colours Sudan 1 (20 µg/kg – ppb) and Orange II (1400 µg/kg – ppb) in sumac from Iran, following an official control on the market. Notified by United Kingdom;

– Novel Food: unauthorised novel food organic graviola leaf powder (Annona muricata) from the Czech Republic, following an official control on the market. Notified by Finland;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: foodborne outbreak caused by norovirus (2 out of 3 samples) in frozen raspberries from Serbia, following a food poisoning. Notified by Sweden.

3. Alerts followed by a withdrawal from the market:

– Allergens: traces of peanut in tahini from Poland, following a consumer complaint. Notified by Belgium, distributed also to Germany;

Mycotoxins: aflatoxins (B1 = 140; Tot. = 160 µg/kg – ppb) in pistachios from Iran, via Germany, following an official control on the market. Notified by Netherlands;

– Mycotoxins: aflatoxins (B1 = 9.1; Tot. = 10.6 µg/kg – ppb) in blanched groundnut kernels from China, following an official control on the market. Notified by Greece, distributed also to Romania.

4. Seizures:

In Spain we had a seizure for an unauthorised operator and absence of health mark on fresh fillets and loins of cod. The product was distributed also to Italy.

5. Border rejections:

  • acephate (0.08 mg/kg – ppm) in fresh waxberry (Myrica Rubra) from China
  • acetamiprid and imidacloprid and unauthorised substances tolfenpyrad, anthraquinone and isocarbophos in green tea Polyphenols from China
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 195; Tot. = 215 µg/kg – ppb) in pistachios, pistachios in shell (B1 = 796; Tot. = 862 µg/kg – ppb) and pistachio nuts (B1 = 28.1; Tot. = 28.1 / B1 = 26; Tot. = 27 µg/kg – ppb) from Iran
  • biphenyl (8.56 mg/kg – ppm) in lemons from Turkey
  • chlorpyrifos-methyl (1.235 mg/kg – ppm) in fresh sweet peppers
  • chlorpyrifos (0.112 mg/kg – ppm), pyrimethanil (0.406 mg/kg – ppm), iprodione (0.123 mg/kg – ppm), tebuconazole (0.369 mg/kg – ppm), tetraconazole (0.074 mg/kg – ppm), indoxacarb (0.036 mg/kg – ppm), methoxyfenozide (0.771 mg/kg – ppm), difenoconazole (0.057 mg/kg – ppm), azoxystrobin (0.572 mg/kg – ppm), imidacloprid (0.027 mg/kg – ppm), boscalid (0.157 mg/kg – ppm), kresoxim-methyl (0.032 mg/kg – ppm), chlorantraniliprole (0.043 mg/kg – ppm) and metrafenone (0.369 mg/kg – ppm) and unauthorised substance fenbutatin oxide (0.311 mg/kg – ppm) in pickled vine leaves from Turkey
  • FCM: migration of manganese (0.6 mg/kg – ppm) from skimmers from China
  • FEED: aflatoxins (B1 = 101; Tot. = 223.8 µg/kg – ppb) in peanuts for bird feed and in groundnuts for birdfeed (B1 = 207; Tot. = 306.4 µg/kg – ppb) from the Gambia
  • fraudulent health certificate(s) for frozen pork fat dispatched from Russia
  • histamine (605 mg/kg – ppm) in sardines (Sardina pilchardus) from Tunisia
  • incorrect labelling on orange soft drink from the United Arab Emirates
  • missing import declaration for pistachios from Turkey
  • poor temperature control (between -2.9 and -5.5 °C) of frozen cape hake (Merluccius capensis) and deepwater (Merluccius paradoxus) hake from Namibia
  • Salmonella spp. (presence /25g) in frozen meat preparations and in frozen salted chicken meat preparations from Thailand
  • Salmonella spp. (presence/25g) in frozen boneless skinless seasoned chicken inner fillet (Gallus gallus) and in frozen chicken meat preparations from Brazil
  • Salmonella spp. (in 1 out of 5 samples /25g) in paan leaves from India
  • Salmonella spp. (in 3 out of 5 samples /25g) in hulled sesame seeds from India and from Nicarauga (in 2 out of 5 samples/25g)
  • too high content of copper (120 mg/kg dry matter) in vine leaves in brine from Turkey
  • unauthorised substance tolfenpyrad (0.031 mg/kg – ppm) in green tea from China
  • unauthorised substance dichlorvos in beans from Nigeria