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Listeria prompts massive frozen food recall - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Listeria prompts massive frozen food recall

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

It might be time to dig deep in your freezer to check out what's lurking inside.

"I opened the freezer. I saw the exact same thing. Threw it out. I was very lucky that I saw it," Laina Johnson said.

Johnson tossed her chicken fried rice from Trader Joe's after learning of a massive food recall. It involves millions of packages of frozen fruits and vegetables shipped to the U.S., Canada and Mexico as far back as 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these products are potentially contaminated with listeria, a scary thought for new mom Jill Kirby.

"We eat a lot of frozen stuff from Trader Joe's having a new baby. And we actually ate a ton of food that was under the recall and then we were like, 'Oh! Maybe we should have checked that,'" Kirby said.

This is one of the largest food recalls, with more than 400 products, coming from Washington producer CRF Frozen Foods and sold under at least 40 different brand names at major retailers like Costco, Target, Wal-Mart and Trader Joe's, just to name a few.

"We did not get sick, but I'm definitely checking stuff now when we go in," Kirby said.

The list of potentially dangerous frozen foods keeps growing. The CDC says at least seven people have been hospitalized due to listeria. Some of their illnesses were linked to eating CRF-manufactured or processed products. Two have died but listeria was not the primary cause of death.

"I actually found it: A) slightly fascinating and also kind of terrifying because the nature of listeria and what it does to the digestive system," said Jacquelyn McAndrew, a consumer.

So how worried should you be? We asked the state's foodborne epidemiologist, Bradley Tompkins of the Vermont Department of Health.

"We've all likely been exposed to it, but when you ingest it as part of a food item and you happen to be elderly, perhaps a newborn, or a young child or a pregnant woman or even immunocompromised, it can cause a very serious and sometimes fatal illness," Tompkins said.

A blood test is the only way to know for sure.

No cases have been reported in Vermont. And consumers are divided on whether this outbreak will have them ditching frozen foods.

"It makes me nervous," Johnson said. "And it's the first time from Trader Joe's I saw a recall. So I'll still go, but I might not buy frozen veggies."

"I feel like these things happen, food safety stuff," Kirby said. "We'll keep eating stuff."

Click here for the complete list of recalled food items.

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