Greenyard Frozen UK hit by listeria recall

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Europe-wide listeria outbreak has so far killed nine people and affected a further 38
The Europe-wide listeria outbreak has so far killed nine people and affected a further 38
Greenyard Frozen UK has recalled frozen vegetables it supplies to top grocery retail chains, claiming they might be contaminated with listeria amid a wider international incident that has snowballed in the past few months.

Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Iceland own-label products are known to have been caught up in the incident, as well as other branded lines produced by Greenyard (see full list below). The recall was implemented voluntarily by the company, ahead of any requirement by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Products involved include frozen corn, peas, beans, spinach and sorrel.

Issuing a recall notice yesterday evening (5 July), the FSA said point-of-sale notices would be displayed in all retail stores selling the products. The notices would explain to customers why the products were being recalled and what to do if they has bought any of the affected items.

The recall stated that the products listed “might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes”​. Shoppers have been warned not to eat them, but to return them to the store they bought them from for a full refund.

Hungarian factory

Earlier this week, consumers were warned to cook frozen vegetables thoroughly following the Europe-wide outbreak of listeriosis linked to frozen sweetcorn, which has been traced to a Hungarian factory operated by Greenyard.

In a statement, Greenyard said: “This measure is taken in the framework of potential listeria contamination of frozen products produced in its Hungary-based facility in Baja. It relates to a specific type of listeria, which might incur health risks in case frozen vegetables are not properly cooked before consumption.

“The recall initiative of these products does not imply that they are actually contaminated, and Greenyard is committed to taking a maximum of precautionary measures as food safety is Greenyard’s number one priority and Greenyard wants its commitment to food safety to be clear towards its customers and end-consumers.”

Greenyard has confirmed that it has stopped production in the Baja facility at this stage and is conducting an in-depth review of the production lines.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) provided an update on the listeriosis outbreak earlier this week. The health scare has so far affected Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the UK.

Nine deaths

Experts have used whole genome sequencing to identify the source of contamination, which initially was thought to be limited to frozen corn. As of 8 June 2018, 47 cases, including nine deaths, had been reported, specifically linked to consumers not following sweetcorn pack instructions to cook the product before consumption.

The same strains of L. monocytogenes were detected in frozen vegetables produced by the same Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This suggested that the strains had persisted in the processing plant despite the cleaning and disinfection procedures that were carried out.

Food Manufacture​ understands that all potential sources of contamination are under investigation, including external issues involving agricultural practices.

The available information confirmed the contamination at the Hungarian factory. However, further investigations, including thorough sampling and testing, were needed to identify the exact points of environmental contamination at the plant, EFSA and the ECDC said. The same recommendation applied to other companies belonging to the same commercial group if environmental contamination were to be detected, they said.

Immediate recall

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. It ordered their immediate withdrawal and recall, which it was hoped would be likely to significantly reduce the risk of human infections and contain the outbreak. All freezing activity at the plant has been stopped.

New cases could still emerge, due to the long incubation period of listeriosis (up to 70 days); the long shelf-life of frozen corn products; and the consumption of frozen corn bought before the recalls and eaten without being cooked properly, according to EFSA and the ECDC.

Symptoms caused by the organism can be similar to flu and include high temperature, muscle ache or pain, chills, feeling or being sick and diarrhoea. The pathogen can prove fatal to people with weakened immune systems, including those over 65 years of age, pregnant women and their unborn babies and babies less than one month old.

Greenyard was created out of the merger of Univeg, Greenyard Foods (formerly PinguinLutosa) and PeatInvest. The company employs 9,000 people in 27 countries and has a turnover of more than €4bn (£3.5bn). It operates four divisions: fresh; frozen; prepared foods; and horticulture.

Batches affected in the latest Greenyard UK recall

Batches affected are as follows:

  • Pinguin Frozen Sweetcorn, best before July 2020
  • Tesco Frozen Mixed Vegetables and Peppers, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Tesco Broccoli, Frozen Sweetcorn, Peas & Spinach Steamer, all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • Pinguin Frozen Golden Rice & Vegetables, all codes up to and inclusive of July 2020
  • Tesco Frozen Growers Harvest Carrot Peas & Sweetcorn Steamer, all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • One Stop Frozen Sweetcorn, all codes up to and inclusive of Best Before January 2020
  • Aldi Four Seasons Frozen Carrots, Peas and Supersweet Sweetcorn Steamers, all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • Ross Mixed Country Vegetables, 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of Best Before July 2020
  • Aldi Frozen Four Seasons Mixed Vegetables, all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • Aldi Four Seasons Supersweet Sweetcorn, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Independent Mixed Vegetables, all codes up to and inclusive of best before July 2019
  • Waitrose Essential Supersweet Sweetcorn, pack size E1kg, best before August 2019, October 2019, November 2019
  • Waitrose Essential Vegetable Mix, pack size E1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of best before December 2019
  • Waitrose Fine Cut Vegetable Steamer, pack size E640g (4 x 160ge), all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Waitrose Love Life Vegetable Medley Steamers, pack size E640g (4 x 160ge), Batch Code P6163 P7021 P7080, best before May 2018, July 2018 and September 2018
  • by Sainsbury's Mixed Special Vegetables, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • by Sainsbury's Mixed Vegetables, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Growers Pride Supersweet Sweetcorn, pack size 750g, all codes up to and inclusive of July 2020
  • by Sainsbury’s White Rice, Broccoli, Supersweet Sweetcorn & Peas Microwaveable Steam bags 540g (4 x 135g), all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • Sainsbury’s Mixed Vegetables, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Sainsbury’s Frozen Rice Broccoli and Sweetcorn, all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • Sainsbury’s Frozen Mixed Vegetables, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Sainsbury’s Frozen Carrot Broccoli and Sweetcorn, all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • Basics Mixed Vegetables, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • by Sainsbury’s Carrots, Broccoli & Sweetcorn Microwaveable Steam Bags, pack size 540g (4 x 135g), all codes up to and inclusive of January 2020
  • Lidl Frozen Green Grocer's Supersweet Corn, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of best before July 2020
  • Pinguin Mixed Vegetables, all codes to best before July 2020
  • Lidl Frozen Freshona Vegetable Mix, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of July 2020
  • Lidl Green Grocer's Mixed Vegetables, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of July 2020
  • Lidl Green Grocer's Carrots, Broccoli & Sweetcorn, pack size 640g
  • Lidl Green Grocer’s Baby Carrots, Peas, Green Beans & Sweetcorn Steamers, pack size 640g, all date codes
  • Lidl Green Grocer’s Fragrant Golden Rice Steamers, pack size 400g, all codes up to and inclusive of July 2020
  • Iceland Frozen Mixed Vegetables, pack size 900g, all codes between best before January 2020 and best before June 2020, inclusive
  • Growers Pride Supersweet Sweetcorn, pack size 450g, all codes up to and inclusive of July 2021
  • Oriental Express Chinese Chicken, pack size 350g, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Oriental Express Chinese Prawns, pack size 350g, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Oriental Express Egg Fried Rice, pack size 350g, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Pinguin Country Vegetable, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of July 2020
  • Pinguin Frozen Cut Beans, all codes up to and inclusive of July 2020
  • Growers Pride Mixed Vegetables, pack size 750g, all codes up to and inclusive of best before July 2020
  • Ross Mixed Vegetables, pack size 450g, all codes up to and inclusive of best before July 2021
  • Ross Mixed Vegetables, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of best before July 2020
  • Ross Sweetcorn, pack size 450g, all codes up to and inclusive of best before July 2021
  • Ross Sweetcorn, pack size 1kg, all codes up to and inclusive of best before July 2020
  • Tesco Frozen Mixed Vegetables, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Tesco Growers Harvest Frozen Mixed Vegetables, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020
  • Tesco Frozen Sweetcorn, all codes up to and inclusive of best before January 2020

Related topics: Food Safety, Frozen

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1 comment

Blame the consumer

Posted by Murray Snudge,

That sounds about right - blame the consumer for not cooking the sweetcorn as instructed on the pack but how could that be known after someone has died?

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