A huge recall of well-known brands of frozen vegetables is underway in supermarkets all over Australia, to allay fears of potential contamination by the deadly listeria bacteria, which was responsible for the deaths of six people in NSW and Victoria earlier this year.

Earlier this week, the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) released an alert for a number of brands of vegetable products that were accessible in popular grocery shops Aldi, Woolworths and IGA stores.

Some of the vegetables were imported from Europe, and the recall in Australia comes in the wake of similar recalls that happened in the United Kingdom over the very same fears of contamination.

Major brands hit

Belgium-based frozen food distributor Greenyard Frozen NV is leading the recall of its products. The following products have been included in the recall:

Woolworths – Essentials snap frozen mixed veg 1kg: Carrots, peas, corn, green beans & potatoes – National distribution. Best before dates 19 MAR 2020 through to 24 APR 2020

  • Woolworths – Bell Farms Steam Veggie Carrot Corn and Broccoli 3pk 450g – National distribution, all stock
  • IGA – Black & Gold Corn Kernels 500g – National distribution. Best before all dates
  • IGA – Black & Gold Mixed Vegetables 1kg: Carrots, peas, beans & corn – National distribution. Best before all dates
  • ALDI – Market Fare Peas, Carrots and Super Sweet Corn 1kg – National distribution
  • ALDI – Market Fare Corn Kernels 1kg QLD, VIC, WA and select 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
  • ALDI – Market Fare Quick Steam Carrot Corn and Broccoli 450g – National distribution
  • ALDI – Only products with country of origin of Belgium, United Kingdom or Hungary. All other countries not affected

A listeria outbreak associated with contaminated rockmelons took the lives of six people in NSW and Victoria.

The organising group for Australian vegetable growers, AUSVEG, remarked that the national recall involved products that were imported and not locally grown ones.

Chief executive officer James Whiteside explained that new labelling regulations in Australia indicate a product’s country of origin.

Whiteside softened the impact of any damage to local growers from the notoriety that came with the recall.

“There may be a short-term impact but, by and large, the incidence in Australian-grown product [of] these sorts of outbreaks is very, very low,” Whiteside said. “I don’t think growers will be overly concerned and they have faith in the ability of the public to make informed decisions about the food that they buy.”

Recall comes after tragic deaths in the UK

FSANZ spokeswoman Lorraine Haase added that there had not been any sign of infections in Australia, but several people had already perished in the United Kingdom.

“This is a precautionary recall, to make sure people are aware and can remove products from their freezers,” said Haase.

The European Food Safety Authority cited there had been 47 cases including nine deaths since a 2015 outbreak in Europe linked to the compromised vegetables.

The same strains of the bacteria had been detected in frozen vegetables grown by the same Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This proposed the strains had endured in the processing plant in spite of the cleaning and disinfection efforts that that were done.