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Frozen veg listeria recall ongoing

Katie Coyne19/07/2018 - 12:45

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Warning to cook frozen veg thoroughly
Warning to cook frozen veg thoroughly

A frozen veg product recall is ongoing following 47 cases of listeriosis and nine deaths since 2015.

The source of the Listeria monocytogenes has been traced back to a Greenyard plant in Baja, Hungary, and had been linked to frozen sweetcorn but it is now thought other veg may also be involved.

Previously believed to have only affected the UK, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, earlier this week there were reports that the contaminated frozen veg has reached Australia and New Zealand where there is also a recall ongoing.

The Hungarian plant supplied a range of brands as well as supermarkets own labels in the UK including Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Iceland, and Aldi.

The FSA said it became involved in February after it became identified as an outbreak and started to work alongside PHE.

Originally the FSA issued guidance emphasising the importance of cooking frozen veg thoroughly, which would kill the bacteria, and to follow good food hygiene.

An FSA spokesperson said: ‘We didn’t initiate the product recall, we simply helped publicise it once the company decided to issue one.

‘We felt prior to the recall that cooking instructions were clear. Product recalls in other countries in Europe were either voluntary or there were concerns around cooking instructions.’

A report by the European Food Safety Authority said the exact point – or points – or stage in the production at the Hungarian plant where the contamination took place has not yet been identified and that further sampling was needed.

However, the same outbreak strain has been identified in frozen spinach and frozen green beans at the plant. This strain has been found across 2016,207, and 2018 seasons of vegetable products.

The report said this: ‘suggests that this strain could be persisting in the environment of the processing plant after standard cleaning and disinfection procedures carried out during periods of no production activity and the rotation of the processed products.

‘Moreover, the use of the contaminated production lines for several food products may represent an additional risk for potential cross-contamination of the various final products processed at the plant.’

In June Greenyard stopped freezing and closed the plant and no produce from 2018 has been put on sale. It has started to source alternative supplies.

Eleven out of 26 patients interviewed - from the UK, Denmark, Finland and Sweden - reported eating frozen or non-frozen sweetcorn. 

Of the 15 remaining cases that didn’t eat frozen or non-frozen sweetcorn, two said they had eaten non-frozen mixed vegetables.

Three people said they had not eaten any corn or mixed vegetables and six people said they didn’t know. Four people said they probably had not eaten corn and one of these said they might possibly have eaten frozen vegetables.

For a list of recalled products click here:



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