Belgium's Greenyard shuts Hungarian unit after listeria deaths

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Belgium's Greenyard group, a top global supplier of frozen fruits and vegetables, has closed a plant in Hungary after listeria contamination there led to the deaths of nine people.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) told the group on June 29 that listeria was detected in samples of frozen vegetables in its Hungarian plant.

The EFSA said nine people had died since 2015 and 38 others were still ill and listed Austria, Britain, Denmark and Finland among the affected countries.

Greenyard on Friday said that the Hungarian food safety regulator had asked it "to stop all marketing and to recall from its customers and consumers all frozen products that had been produced in this plant between the period of August 2016 and June 2018, based on a potential listeria contamination when frozen products are not properly cooked.

"Greenyard has taken all possible additional measures to preserve food safety, among others recall of the products, closure of the Hungarian plant and additional tests and analyses," a statement said.

"The recall is a precautionary measure and does not imply that recalled products are contaminated. We advise consumers to cook frozen products. When cooked for 2 minutes at 70°C, the potential risk of infection is fully eliminated."

Listeria mainly affects children and has a incubation period of up to 70 days, making it difficult to track.

Contamination in humans can result in flu-like illness, infection of the bloodstream and, in severe cases, infection of the brain which can prove fatal.

© 2018 AFP

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