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Massive frozen food recall turns deadly — check your freezers

Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine. She has been a freelance writer for several years, though her real passion is cooking. You can see the recipes she creates on her vegan food blog, A Life of Litt...

Huge frozen foods recall reveals what's so dangerous about listeria

UPDATE 5/10/16: This two-week-old recall has expanded yet again. The FDA says NORPAC Foods has recalled Natural Directions Organics Mixed Vegetables and Natural Directions Organics Green Peas. And Picsweet is recalling 14 frozen food products containing peas and green beans from CRF Frozen Foods.

Another day, another deadly recall. Is anyone else getting tired of these and losing more faith in our food system each time a new outbreak, contamination and death is announced?

Last week we wrote about a recall that affected more than 350 frozen fruit and vegetable products sold by 42 different brands at major grocers in the U.S. and Canada. The foods were processed at CRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, Washington (the source of the outbreak), and the listeria contamination was discovered during random testing by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Now the recall has gone from bad to worse.

More: How not to get listeria -- the food poisoning that means business

It turns out that eight people have fallen ill due to consuming the listeria-tainted foods, and unfortunately two of them have died.

Trader Joe's is also having listeria problems. Its Broccoli Slaw and Kale Salad with White Chicken Meat with use-by dates of May 2 – 7 are being recalled due to a possible listeria contamination linked to sunflower seeds.

Listeria, while not as common as E. coli and salmonella, is actually a lot more dangerous. One in 5 people who contract listeriosis (when the bacteria enters the bloodstream) dies, and listeriosis is most likely to be contracted by people with weakened immune systems. That means babies, the elderly, pregnant women and people who have weak immune systems for other reasons are especially at risk.

More: 15 fruit-infused waters to make you feel like a springtime goddess

It's also dangerous because, unlike other bacteria, listeria can still flourish in cold temperatures.

The recall is far-reaching for this very reason. CRF is recalling all of its organic and conventional frozen fruit and vegetables that were processed at the plant any time from May 2014 to the present. Even if you haven't bought any frozen fruit or veggies recently, check your freezer. I think we all probably have a wayward bag of frozen peas that's been sitting in our freezer for an embarrassingly long time, and it's not worth the risk to just leave them there without checking.

In the meantime, if you think you may have eaten any of the recalled items and start experiencing flu-like symptoms, you should head to your doctor and let them know.

You can see the full list of recalled products here.

More: 12 butter substitutes to make you a better baker

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