discovery that packs of pre-sliced chicken sold by the supermarket chain Coles
were contaminated with listeria, has prompted a
recall of the product from stores in New South Wales, South Australia,
Victoria and Queensland and Coles Online.
The cause of the listeria contamination, found
in the chicken during routine product testing, is now under investigation.
The products affected are the 'You'll love Coles sliced-chicken breast'
2 x 50g packs with a 'best before' date of October 7 which was sold in
Coles, BI-LO and Pick 'n Pay stores.
Listeria monocytogenes bacteria were found in
the chicken which came from a single supplier and checks are being made to
track down the source and reason for the contamination.
While no cases of ill health have been reported, it is unclear how much
of the sliced chicken had been sold - Coles says no other products are
Coles supermarkets is a part of Wesfarmers, Australia's
second largest retailer and this latest recall is the 7th regarding listeria-tainted products in Australia this year.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) which sets food standards
in both countries says the fact that the recalls occur before consumers
become sick illustrates that the system is working.
Foodborne disease are
a concern for regulators and food industries worldwide and progress in food
technology and changes in the demands of consumers, has led to the
emergence of new microbiological hazards.
This in turn means there is a focus on foodborne
pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, which
is a hardy bacteria able to grow in temperatures ranging from 4?C (39?F),
the temperature of a refrigerator, to 37?C (99?F), the body's internal
Listeria monocytogenes are a worry because
they can cause a condition known as listeriosis
and while it is uncommon, and causes few or no symptoms in healthy people,
in vulnerable people it can be very dangerous in that it can lead to
meningitis, septicaemia and miscarriage.
Those most vulnerable are pregnant women, the elderly and those whose
immune systems are already challenged in some way.
A listeria infection is usually caused by
eating contaminated food - listeria bacteria are
commonly found in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, nature
and in some foods.
Some foods that have caused outbreaks of Listeria include hot dogs, deli
meats, raw milk, cheeses (particularly soft-ripened cheeses like Feta,
Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style "queso
blanco"), raw and cooked poultry, raw meats,
ice cream, raw vegetables, raw and smoked fish and the green lip mussel.
In Canada this year
an outbreak of listeriosis traced to a factory
owned by Maple Leaf Foods has been linked to 14 deaths and according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 2,500 people in the
become seriously ill with listeriosis each year
and of these, about 500 die.