Australians are being urged to buy homegrown produce after frozen vegetables imported from Europe had to be recalled over fears they may be contaminated with a deadly bacteria.
Around 10 products were recalled on Monday amid concerns of potential listeria contamination, following a warning from Food Standards Australia New Zealand, with Aussies being told to bin the potentially harmful products or return them for a refund.
The recalled items include bags of own-brand Aldi vegetables, as well as Essentials snap frozen mixed vegetables and Bell Farms steam veggie carrot, corn and broccoli bags which are sold at Woolworths. Black and Gold branded frozen vegetables are also at risk and have been recalled across the country.
The selected bags of frozen vegetables originated from Belgium and Hungary and now AUSVEG, the body which represents Australian vegetable growers, is calling for shoppers to choose local produce over imported veg, describing it as “safe” and “of the highest quality”.
James Whiteside, CEO of AUSVEG, told Starts at 60: “We’d like to make it clear that the recall has only affected some frozen vegetable products and that all affected products have been removed from supermarket shelves. All of the recalled products were imported from Hungary/Belgium, so consumers can have confidence that the local fresh and frozen vegetable products available on supermarket shelves are safe and of the highest quality.”
Whiteside also wants consumers to check the packaging carefully when grocery shopping and said new labelling laws, which came into effect this month, will make it easier for consumers to check where there food came from.
“New mandatory labelling laws give consumers clearer information about where their food comes from, so consumers can more easily identify if a food product is grown in Australia, which has some of the world’s most stringent food safety protocols,” he said, “We encourage Australian consumers to continue to support local growers by buying locally-grown fresh and frozen vegetables.”
He also urged anyone who has purchased the potentially contaminated products to discard them immediately and seek medical attention should any symptoms arise, adding: “Our industry’s number one priority is the safety of consumers.”
Starts at 60 readers also got involved with the debate and reader Lorraine Connor told us: “This is what happens when all our fresh veg and fruit is exported and we import second grade fruit and veg. There should be a mandatory law that you can only export what we do not need and no foreign veg and fruit can be imported.”
Fellow reader Zeila Hoare agreed, saying she would like to see the law change surrounding the exportation of fresh produce: “We should be lobbying the government to make it mandatory that we supply all our fruits and vegetables here and only the excess goes overseas.”
Listeria is a life-threatening illness 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, as well as pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Listeriosis starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea.
Earlier this year six people sadly died, in New South Wales and Victoria, after consuming contaminated rockmelon, with the outbreak being traced back to Rombola Family Farms in the Riverina region. One woman also suffered a miscarriage which was confirmed as being linked to the outbreak.
To view the full list of recalled items, click here.