under spotlight as food ingredient suspected in listeria outbreak
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Processors-under-spotlight-as-food-ingredient-suspected-in-listeria-outbreak
By Rory Harrington, 06-Aug-2009
An investigation has been launched
after tainted airline food was linked to a dramatic jump in listeria cases
in one Australian state.
Airline Virgin Blue confirmed that chicken wraps served on some of
its internal and international flights during a two-month period earlier
this year were under investigation by health authorities in the state of
Queensland. One report suggested that five people, including two pregnant
women, had so far contracted listeriosis
after eating the airline's wraps.
The company said it believed a contaminated ingredient supplied to
the producers of the wraps was responsible for the problem. The product,
which had been withdrawn from sale in June, had also been supplied to a
number of other firms, said the airline
“The investigation is principally confined to supply of chicken
wraps in a small period of time in May-June, 2009 in which it is believed
that a batch of product provided to these companies may have contained the
potentially harmful bacteria, Listeria,”
said a Virgin Blue statement.
“The affected chicken wraps may have been supplied to customers on
flights along the east coast of Australia and to New Zealand and Bali. It
appears the likely source of the contamination was an ingredient supplied
to the manufacturers of the wraps and not Virgin Blue or other companies
who received the affected products.”
The company said it continued to co-operate with state and national
authorities and reminded its passengers that the bacteria had an incubation
period of up to 70 days.
Big increase in listeriosis cases
Queensland Health said there had been a substantial rise in
listeriosis cases both across the state and nationally in 2009.
Dr Erin Groves, acting deputy director of the Queensland Health
said: “In the last six months we've actually had nationally around about
56 cases, of which nine were in Queensland. Normally we would get about 50
or 60 in a whole year.”
She confirmed that the focus of the investigation would fall on meat
processors whose processing and supply procedures would come under intense
"What we're needing to do is go out to all manufacturers
that could possibly be implicated and do very extensive testing of how they
process their meat, how they supply it to people who then on give it to
people to consume - to actually find out whether there's things we can do
to prevent further infection," Groves said.
Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food
contaminated with the bacterium Listeria
monocytogenes, said the US Centers for Disease Control. The disease mainly
affects older people, newborns, adults with weakened immune systems and
pregnant women, who are 20 times more at risk of contracting the disease
than other healthy adults.