CoOL info aids consumers with veggie recall
Frozen corn and possibly other frozen vegetables are the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has killed at least nine people in Europe.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has issued a recall for a range of frozen vegetables that were sourced from Greenyard Frozen Belgium NV, which may contain the pathogen. The products have been available for sale at Woolworths, Aldi, IGA, Campbells and independent grocery stores.
Whole genome sequencing was used to identify the food source, which initially was thought to be limited to frozen corn.
The same strains of L. monocytogenes had been detected in frozen vegetables produced by the same Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This suggests that the strains have persisted in the processing plant despite the cleaning and disinfection procedures that were carried out.
The available information confirms the contamination at the Hungarian plant. However, further investigations, including thorough sampling and testing, are needed to identify the exact points of environmental contamination at the Hungarian plant. The same recommendation applies to other companies belonging to the same commercial group if environmental contamination is detected.
On 29 June 2018, the Hungarian Food Chain Safety Office banned the marketing of all frozen vegetable and frozen mixed vegetable products produced by the affected plant between August 2016 and June 2018, and ordered their immediate withdrawal and recall. This last measure is likely to significantly reduce the risk of human infections and contain the outbreak. All freezing activity at the plant has been stopped.
Australia’s now mandatory CoOL labelling means that consumers will be easily able to identify frozen vegetables sourced from Europe, particularly Hungary or Belgium, and return to their place of purchase. Local produce should be simple to identify and consumers can be reassured that it is not involved in the pathogen contamination and recall.
A useful by-product of the CoOL legislation.
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