Europe-wide food contamination with Listeria bacteria
The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety is currently informing about a recall to Lidl regarding dangerous Listeria bacteria in the vegetable mix. The "Freshona frozen vegetable mix" by the Belgian company Greenyard Frozen is not the only one affected. As is currently reported across Europe, not only Germany is affected by listeria in frozen vegetables. Nine fatalities have been reported in England that appear to have consumed frozen sweetcorn from their English subsidiary Greenyard Frozen UK.
Greenyard Frozen UK is responding with a drastic recall campaign and recalling 49 different frozen products with best before dates until 2020. This comes from a food warning from the English authorities from the "Food Standards Agency". According to Greenyard Frozen UK, this step was taken as a precaution, as it cannot be ruled out that the various frozen vegetable products contain Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Additional recalls could also be made in Germany and other EU countries.
English authorities are responding to the Europe-wide outbreak
The British authorities Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland have already published precautionary advice on cooking frozen vegetables after the Europe-wide outbreak of listeriosis. In a joint press release, they provide information on the correct handling of frozen vegetables.
This reduces the risk of listeriosis
The English authorities are vehemently pointing out that most frozen vegetables, including maize, must be cooked before they can be eaten. This also applies if the ingredients are used in cold dishes such as salads, smoothies or dips. The manufacturer's information should always be taken into account. If a product is not marked as ready to eat, the products should under no circumstances be consumed uncooked.
Five European countries are already affected
Frozen sweet corn is the likely source of the ongoing listeriosis outbreak, which has already reached five European countries, according to the English authorities. The products were contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which can trigger listeriosis. This disease can be very serious and can even be fatal in the worst case, especially for people with a weakened immune system and for the elderly, pregnant women and small children.
European Food Authority on alert
The European Food Safety Agency efsa announces in a press release that the bacterial strains are the same ones that have repeatedly appeared in frozen vegetables in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Cleaning and disinfection measures carried out in the corresponding processing plants have not achieved the desired effects.
Is a Hungarian production facility the origin?
According to efsa, the contamination comes from a Hungarian plant. Further investigations, including extensive sampling and testing, are ongoing to determine the exact levels of environmental contamination. Other companies in the same trading group could also be affected.
The Hungarian office stops production
According to efsa, the Hungarian office stopped all productions of frozen vegetable and mixed vegetable products in the plant on June 29, 2018 and prohibited the marketing of all corresponding products of the plant concerned that were manufactured between August 2016 and June 2018. Redemptions and recalls were also ordered with immediate effect. In addition, all freezing activities in the facility were prohibited until further notice.
Long incubation period of listeriosis
As efsa reports, listeriosis can have a long incubation period of up to 70 days. For this reason, it cannot be ruled out that new cases of listeriosis may still occur. (vb)