Supermarkets across Australia have began recalling bags of frozen vegetables amid fears they could contain a deadly bacteria.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand confirmed a precautionary recall is under way of about 10 frozen vegetable products due to the possible presence of Listeria.
Supermarkets including Woolworths, IGA and ALDI have pulled packets of sweetcorn and frozen vegetable products from shelves.
Own-brand products for ALDI, including Market Fare frozen vegetables, are among those affected as well as bags of Essentials snap frozen mixed vegetables and Bell Farms steam veggie carrot, corn and broccoli bags, which are sold at Woolworths.
The products have been available for sale at Woolworths, ALDI and IGA, Campbells and independent grocery stores.
It is recommended that anyone in possession of the listed products dispose of it or return it to the place of purchase for a refund, the food standards agency said.
Listeria is found widely in the environment, but is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies, and can cause death in people with compromised immune systems.
Listeriosis starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea.
In immuno-suppressed patients, listeriosis usually presents as a brain inflammation, brain abscess or blood poisoning. Pneumonia and heart valve infections have also been described.
People at risk are advised to contact their doctors immediately after possible symptoms appear.
In February, six people died after a national outbreak of Listeria linked to a rockmelon supplier.
It comes after several UK supermarkets also removed various frozen vegetable products from their shelves due to concerns about possible Listeria contamination.
Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose have recalled frozen vegetable packages, including packets of sweetcorn and mixed vegetables, because they could contain listeria monocytogenes, which can cause listeriosis.
According to the European Food Safety Authority nine deaths have been attributed to an outbreak of listeria in several European countries since 2015.
Earlier this week, the EFSA said frozen sweetcorn and other frozen vegetables were the likely source of the outbreak in five countries.
The same strain of listeria was detected in frozen vegetables produced by a Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the EFSA said.
"This suggests that the strains have persisted in the processing plant despite the cleaning and disinfection procedures that were carried out," the statement said.
The products being recalled in Australia include:
- Woolworths: Essentials snap frozen mixed veg 1kg: carrots, peas, corn, green beans and potatoes. National distribution, best before 19 March 2020 - 24 April 2020;
- Woolworths: Bell Farms Steam Veggie Carrot Corn and Broccoli 3pk 450g. National distribution, all stock.
- IGA: Black & Gold Corn Kernels 500g bags.
- IGA: Black & Gold Mixed Vegetables 1kg: Carrots, peas, beans & corn
- ALDI: Market Fare Peas, Carrots and Super Sweet Corn 1kg
- ALDI: Market Fare Corn Kernels 1kg. QLD, VIC, WA and selected NSW stores - product of Hungary only
- ALDI: Market Fare Mixed Vegetables 1kg. QLD, NSW, ACT, WA - packed in Belgium from Imported and Belgian Ingredients (only)
- ALDI: Market Fare Quick Steam Carrot Broccoli and Cauliflower 450g. National distribution, only products with country of origin of Belgium, United Kingdom or Hungary, all other countries not affected.
- Black and Gold branded frozen vegetables are also at risk and have been recalled across Australia.