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Virgin Blue listeria outbreak caused by chicken

Source of Article:,25197,25954028-23289,00.html

Lex Hall | August 20, 2009

Article from:  The Australian

A LISTERIA outbreak on Virgin Blue flights that forced two pregnant women into premature labour has been linked to chicken provided by a NSW poultry supplier.

Wollongong's GMI Food Wholesalers Pty Ltd, trading as Australian Poultry and Food Wholesalers, had been prohibited from producing the chicken product or any other ready-to-eat meats, the NSW government said yesterday.

Seven people contracted listeriosis in May and June after eating chicken wraps served on Virgin Blue flights out of Brisbane. Two of those passengers were pregnant women who gave birth prematurely.

The women and the babies were healthy.

A prohibition order was put on the poultry company on August 4 until further notice.

"Laboratory analysis finalised this week confirms the link that Listeria bacteria consumed by passengers on the Virgin Blue flights originated in the chicken processed at the Wollongong-based plant," said Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald.

"Consumers can be assured that the contaminated product that was sent to Queensland has been isolated and removed from the marketplace," Mr Macdonald said.

The tainted chicken wraps were offered on services along the east coast of Australia, to New Zealand and Bali, and out of Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Potentially, up to 5000 flights were involved.

Virgin Blue declined to comment on the outbreak.

Listeria can be present in foods such as cold meat, cold cooked chicken, pre-packaged salad, soft cheese, unpasteurised dairy products, soft-serve ice-cream, pate and chilled seafood.

It can be potentially harmful to pregnant women and people with suppressed immunity.

It can have an incubation period of more than two months and produces vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and severe headaches.

Australia has had a spike of listeria infections this year with 56 cases so far, compared with 68 for the whole of last year.

Australian Poultry and Food Wholesalers was unavailable for comment yesterday.



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