Belgium-based vegetable supplier Greenyard said further investigations are needed to identify the “causal” medical link between an outbreak of a listeria strain at its plant in Hungary and the number of cases, including deaths, reported by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Greenyard has closed the plant in Baja, Hungary, the source of an outbreak of what it identifies as the L. monocytogenes strain of listeria found in frozen vegetables made at the facility. It said it has taken all possible additional measures to preserve food safety, including a product recall undertaken early in July.
“The recall is a precautionary measure and does not imply that recalled products are contaminated,” Greenyard said in a statement.
Greenyard added that the EFSA reported that the L. monocytogenes strain of the bacteria was found in 47 cases, including nine reported deaths, and was found through highly advanced “whole genome sequencing”.
Earlier in July, Greenyard said the product recall included frozen corn, peas, beans, spinach and sorrel. At the time, the company said it had notified food regulators in countries where the products had been shipped from the Baja plant, including the UK, where a range of branded and own-label lines have been recalled.
EFSA had also previously said the same strains of L. monocytogenes had been detected in frozen vegetables produced by the same Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
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In its latest statement updating the market on the outbreak, Greenyard said: “We are currently in contact with the relevant authorities to assess further information on this particular strain and we fully support any further research as food safety and the health of consumers are obviously our number one priority.”
Greenyard added it expects to incur losses from the product recall and consequent plant closure, but is insured against “liability damages”.