Several Meals on Wheels products are being urgently recalled across the country over fears they may be contaminated with bacteria that can cause the potentially deadly listeria virus.
NSW Food Authority released an urgent recall notice on Friday evening, advising that several ready meal products produced by Flagstaff Fine Foods were potentially unsafe for consumption. The affected products have been on sale at Meals on Wheels and community organisations in New South Wales, the ACT, Queensland and South Australia.
“The recall is due to a potential microbial (Listeria monocytogenes) contamination,” a statement issued by the Food Authority read.
“Consumers should not consume this product and should return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund. If you are concerned about your health, you should seek medical advice.”
The affected products include the Chicken Schnitzel with Gravy (360g) which comes in a cardboard container with clear film seal. The affected use by dates are; 17/07/2020, 24/07/2020, 25/07/2020, 05/08/2020, 06/08/2020, 18/08/2020, 13/08/2020, 27/08/2020, 03/09/2020. Lamb chop (360g) meals are also impacted, with the use by dates; 17/02/2020, 18/07/2020, 25/07/2020, 30/07/2020, 06/08/2020, 18/08/2020, 20/08/2020, 22/08/2020, 27/08/2020, 09/09/2020, 12/09/2020.
Customers should also return the following meals, all of which come in cardboard containers with clear film seals; Honey Mustard Beef (use by: 28/07/2020, 25/08/2020), Pork in BBQ Sauce (use by: 25/07/2020, 18/08/2020), Apricot and Fig Chicken (use by: 15/08/2020), Vienna Schnitizel (use By: 22/07/2020, 05/08/2020, 18/08/2020, 29/08/2020, 10/09/2020), Pork Apple and Cranberry Casserole (use by: 12/08/2020, 01/09/2020) and Roast Beef (use by: 21/07/2020, 25/07/2020, 01/08/2020, 06/08/2020, 18/08/2020, 22/08/2020, 29/08/2020, 05/09/2020, 12/09/2020).
Listeria can be life-threatening for certain people, particularly those over the age of 60. Those who are over 70, have diabetes, cancer or even suppressed immune systems are most at risk, while it is also known to cause illness in pregnant women and their unborn babies.
The infection starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea.
To avoid potential contamination, there are types of foods that people who are at increased risk of contamination should avoid, including chilled seafood such as sashimi, raw oysters and smoked ready-to-eat seafood, as well as deli meats.
Other foods to avoid if you fall into a higher risk category include rockmelon, pre-prepared fruit and vegetable salads, soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta and feta, soft-serve ice cream and meat spreads.
Earlier this year, two elderly Australians sadly died after contracting listeriosis from eating contaminated food. It was confirmed in July that two unidentified retirees from NSW and Victoria, both in their 70s, had passed away after contracting the potentially fatal illness, while a third person, also in their 70s, from Queensland was also diagnosed with a listeria infection.
Following the deaths it was confirmed that smoked salmon was the likely cause, with Australia’s leading medical officer reminding those most at risk to take extra care when preparing and consuming high-risk foods.
“This is a timely reminder for people to ensure that food is handled, prepared and stored safely, and that those most at-risk of listeriosis avoid certain foods,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said at the time.
He added: “Those at increased risk of illness include pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborn babies, the elderly, and people of all ages with immune systems weakened by illness or medication.
“If you (or someone in your household) have a weakened immune system, the best way to avoid Listeria is to eat freshly cooked or freshly prepared food.”