Illawarra residents who’ve consumed recalled brands of frozen vegetables have been advised to be aware of symptoms of listeria for up to 70 days afterwards.
Supermarkets including Woolworths, IGA and ALDI have pulled about 10 brands of sweetcorn and mixed frozen vegetables off the shelves nationwide amid fears they contain the potentially deadly bacteria.
While cases of listeria remain rare – there’s been just two in the Illawarra so far this year and none in 2017 – it has a high death rate according to NSW Health.
And unlike other common foodborne diseases, the incubation period can be long, according to Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District public health unit director Curtis Gregory.
“The incubation period (between infection and symptoms) can be from three days to 70 days, although the majority of cases occur within three weeks,” Mr Gregory said.
“So I’d urge anyone who has eaten any of these products to keep an eye out for flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle ache, nausea and vomiting and headaches.
“More severe symptoms may include loss of balance, confusion and convulsions.”
Mr Gregory said the two Illawarra cases which occurred in February were not connected to each other, nor were they linked to this year’s national rockmelon listeria outbreak which claimed six lives.
“And we haven’t had any notifications with this recent recall of frozen vegetables,” he said.
“Also it differs from previous listeria outbreaks such as rockmelon and frozen berries, as these are foods generally eaten raw or in smoothies. With frozen vegetables the majority of people would heat them thoroughly and that process actually kills the bacteria.
“The risk of infection is greater when the veggies are not cooked properly or eaten cold.”
Mr Gregory said residents who had affected products in their freezers should either throw them away, or return to the place of purchase for a refund.
“See your GP immediately if you have symptoms – especially those in high risk groups including pregnant women, the elderly and those with weak immune systems,” he said.
“It can be effectively treated with antibiotics and supportive treatments for symptoms such as dehydration.”
The products – which are imported – are listed on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.
The products being recalled in Australia include:
Woolworths - Essentials snap frozen mixed veg 1kg: Carrots, peas, corn, green beans & potatoes – National distribution Best Before 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.