Customers who bought frozen vegetables at a Bermuda supermarket have been told to return them amid fears of a listeria outbreak.
The move came after a recall notice was issued for packets of sweetcorn and other foods after a recent outbreak of listeriosis across Europe that has been linked to nine deaths.
Supermart in Hamilton yesterday confirmed it had removed some products made for British supermarket Waitrose from its freezers and asked people who had bought the affected items to return them to the shop.
The items involved are 1kg packages of Waitrose Essential Supersweet Sweetcorn and Waitrose Essential Vegetable Mix.
Tredick Gorham, Supermart owner, said: “When we were advised of it on Friday, we took them out so they’re no longer for sale.”
He added: “It has been listed as a voluntary recall. It’s an essential recall, really.
“It’s pretty rare to have a recall in the first place. If there is a recall, we take stuff off the shelves, we don’t sell it, we have it destroyed.”
Listeriosis is a rare infection caused by the bacteria listeria and can be serious for vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, the elderly, newborns or others with a weakened immune system.
Symptoms in most cases are mild, often short-term and include high temperature, aches and pains, chills, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Mr Gorham said a notice on the shop’s Facebook page alerted customers to the problem and flyers have been posted on its freezers
See page 19 of today’s edition of The Royal Gazette for an advertisement from the Supermart.
Mr Gorham added: “We just respond as fast as we can.”
He said “a few cases” of potentially tainted products had been sold, with each made up of around 12 packages. Mr Gorham said anyone who had bought the recalled products should “bring it back, we will give them a refund — we want them to bring it back because we want to destroy it”.
He added: “There must be thousands and thousands of these all over the EU.”
A report on the European Food Safety Authority website said: “Frozen corn and possibly other frozen vegetables are the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has been affecting Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom since 2015.
“Experts used whole genome sequencing to identify the food source, which initially was thought to be limited to frozen corn. As of 15 June 2018, 47 cases including nine deaths had been reported.”
The statement added the same strains of the bacteria had been found in frozen vegetables made by a Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and suggested these have “persisted in the processing plant despite the cleaning and disinfection procedures that were carried out”.
The report, issued last week, added: “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 and ordered their immediate withdrawal and recall.
“This last measure is likely to significantly reduce the risk of human infections and contain the outbreak. All freezing activity at the plant has been stopped.”
But Efsa warned: “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.”
Efsa said to help reduce the risk of infection consumers should thoroughly cook frozen vegetables.