Federal officials haven’t updated their reports on the Listeria outbreak related to the CRF Frozen Foods Inc. production plant in Pasco, WA, or revealed the root cause of contamination in the facility, but newspapers in the area are reporting the operation may soon reopen. logo-CRF-Frozen-FoodsThe reports are good news for more than 300 employees, some of whom have been laid off since late April when the plant ceased operations after CRF recalled hundreds of products under dozens of brands. Lab analysis of samples of the company’s frozen corn and peas showed they were contaminated with the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes that had infected people in at least three states. “Gene Grabowski, a consultant acting as spokesman for CRF during the crisis, said the company will turn its attention from trying to find the source of the deadly listeria pathogen to securing federal approval to restart production,” the Kennewick, WA, Tri-City Herald newspaper reported Sunday. CRF, which is affiliated with R.D. Offutt Co. of Fargo, ND, hired Grabovski in recent weeks to help with public relations. He is known most recently for assisting Bluebell Creameries with its recall and public image after its ice cream was linked to a deadly listeria outbreak. Before the CRF plant reopens, it must gain approval from government authorities. The root cause of the Listeria monocytogenes remains a mystery, with neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the Food and Drug Administration having posted any new information on the outbreak to investigation for weeks. In the CDC’s last update, posted May 3, eight people in three states had been confirmed with listeriosis infections. The first victim became ill in September 2013 and the most recent victims’ illnesses began in January and March this year. All eight victims required hospitalization and two died, but state health authorities did not consider the cause of their deaths to be listeriosis. The most recent update from the Food and Drug Administration on its investigation was posted May 19. In that report FDA officials said environmental samples collected in another Pasco, WA, food processing plant matched some of the listeriosis victims. Those samples from Oregon Potato Co. led that company to recall onion products from its wholesale customers and resulted in at least one so-called downstream, or secondary, recall by one of those customers — the Pictsweet Co. — of consumer products. “FDA is working to identify other parts of the relevant supply chain that may have product relating to this outbreak. However, FDA is prohibited by law from releasing publicly certain information about supply chains, which may constitute confidential commercial information,” according to the agency’s May 19 update. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)