'Buy Australian' push after product recall for European veggies

A recall of frozen vegetables linked to a factory in Europe, amid fears they could be contaminated with listeria, has prompted calls from local growers for shoppers to “buy Australian”.

The 10 products being recalled in Australia contain vegetables sourced via Belgium and Hungary and are being sold in major supermarkets including Woolworths, Aldi and IGA.

“The products affected contain a particularly dangerous strain of listeria and are being recalled as a precautionary measure to ensure consumers are protected,” Food Standards Australia New Zealand said.

The same Hungarian processor is also at the centre of a massive recall of frozen sweet corn, mixed vegetables, carrots and broccoli from stores across England, according to the UK Food Standards Agency.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand has named 10 frozen vegetable products which pose a listeria risk. Source: Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Australians are being told to check their freezers and destroy the products or return them to the place of purchase for a refund.

AusVeg, the peak body for the Australian vegetable industry, said consumers have a “right to ask” how supermarkets assure (that) growers overseas are complying with local standards and that proper processes are maintained.

“I’m not suggesting they don’t take these issues extremely seriously, they do, but it is a genuine question that consumers have every right to ask,” chief executive James Whiteside told AAP on Tuesday.

Mr Whiteside said Australian consumers could also be more diligent in checking food origins.

“Standards in Australia are some of the highest in the world, and now it’s really easy to check, by having a quick look at the package to see where the product has come from, and you can make much more sensible decisions.”

Supermarket chain Woolworths sold the recalled product, Bell Farms Steam Veggie Carrot Corn and Broccoli 450g. Source: AAP

Listeria can cause illness in pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly and people with low immune systems such as cancer and organ-transplant patients.

Around 150 people are hospitalised and about 15 die each year due to listeria infection.

In healthy people, the infection may be mistaken for a mild viral infection or flu.

The general, symptoms include headache, fever, tiredness and aches and pains, as well as diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal cramps.

The recalled products are:

  • Woolworths – Essentials snap frozen mixed veg 1kg: Carrots, peas, corn, green beans & potatoes
  • Woolworths – Bell Farms Steam Veggie Carrot Corn and Broccoli 3pk 450g
  • IGA – Black & Gold Corn Kernels 500g
  • IGA – Black & Gold Mixed Vegetables 1kg: Carrots, peas, beans and corn
  • ALDI – Market Fare Peas, Carrots and Super Sweet Corn 1kg
  • ALDI – Market Fare Corn Kernels 1kg QLD, VIC, WA and select NSW stores
  • ALDI – Market Fare Mixed Vegetables 1kg QLD, NSW, ACT, WA
  • ALDI – Market Fare Quick Steam Carrot Broccoli and Cauliflower 450g
  • ALDI – Market Fare Quick Steam Carrot Corn and Broccoli 450g
Aldi stocks several frozen vegetable products with contamination risk including ‘Market Fare Quick Steam Carrot Broccoli and Cauliflower 450g’. Source: AAP

A spokesperson for supermarket chain Coles, confirmed that the retailer did not stock the recalled goods.

“Coles wants to assure customers that all Coles Brand frozen vegetables are Australian Grown and are not affected by the recall issued by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) on 9 July 2018,” said a Coles spokesperson.

“Coles does not stock any frozen products supplied by Greenyard Frozen Belgium,” the spokesperson said.