/ Food & Drink

Listeria concerns: have you returned your frozen veg yet?

Six UK supermarkets have recalled a variety of frozen vegetable products over fears they may contain listeria. Have you been affected?

Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland have recalled a range of frozen products, fearing that they may potentially contain the bacteria listeria.

The Food Standards Authority (FSA) warned last week that up to 49 products distributed by Greenyard Frozen could contain the bacteria. The FSA said the bacteria is mostly found in sweetcorn but can be present in other frozen foods.

Listeria can seriously affect people over the age of 65, pregnant women, babies and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include a high temperature of 38C or above; aches and pains; chills; feeling sick or vomiting or diarrhoea.

The precautionary measure comes despite Public Health England saying there have been no confirmed cases of listeriosis linked to the frozen vegetable scandal since May 2018.

Your concerns

We’ve published a full list of products currently under recall, but many people remained confused as to what products are affected. Which? was on hand to answer your questions.

You can get a refund on opened packs of frozen veg:

If you’ve bought an affected bag of veg, don’t take any risks:

It’s only frozen veg made by one manufacturer which is affected:

Have you bought affected frozen veg? Will you be returning it to the supermarket? Are you worried about contamination in the food you buy?

Comments
Member

Food recalls are a bit of an eye-opener when you discover how many brand names are affected.

How can supermarkets claim own brand products when they are all made in the same place? I very naively used to think they all did their own food manufacturing.

Perhaps it would be more honest if they were all branded Greenyard.

Member

We know that white goods and other products can be sold under a variety of brand names and the same happens with food. The recalls announced by the Food Standards Agency – often due to undeclared allergenic constituents – often give information about the food manufacturer and the retailers that have been selling it. In the past, some supermarkets have stated that certain food and drink is manufactured under licence by a specified company, but this now seems less common.

A couple of years it was widely publicised that most of the fresh chicken sold in the supermarkets was from the 2 Sisters Food Group or Faccenda. 2SFG now own Fox’s biscuits and these are sold under other brand names.

Member

I agree with you, Alfa. What is concerning is that even companies like Ross – who I thought were processors in their own right and not out-sourcers – are recalling products.

Is the refund what we paid for them whenever? What we would have to pay to replace them? Is it cash or a credit or a voucher? What if I take our bag of frozen mixed vegetables back to Sainsbury’s and they say it’s not one of the affected products [the list is not definitive]? – Will I have to dump or take home the by-now partially-thawed food?

I certainly think the manufacturer’s/processor’s name should be stated on the pack.

Where do Morrison’s, Farm Foods, Iceland, Co-op, and M&S get their frozen veg from? I think we should be told.

Member

Listeriosis is normally associated with consumption of food that has been stored in a refrigerator but not heated, and soft cheeses are often given as an example. The problem is that the bacteria grow down to around 4°C and many domestic fridges are set between 4 and 8°C.

I am a little confused because listeria bacteria are destroyed by cooking, and I assume that most people will not eat uncooked frozen veg. Maybe if they are heated in the microwave, part of the food is not heated thoroughly.

Member

I thought I read affected products came from Hungary and don’t remember where I saw it but found this on the European Food Safety Authority website:
http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/180703

But on Ocado, recalled Essential Waitrose Frozen SuperSweet Sweetcorn states:
Country of Origin – France
Country of Packing – UK.

Member

As Tom has mentioned in his introduction, information about food recalls is available on the Food Standards Agency’s website. It is simple to register to receive email notifications: https://www.food.gov.uk/news-alerts. That is very useful for anyone who suffers from food allergies and intolerances. Since the listeria problem was discovered the advice on the FSA regarding products affected has been updated.

Member

I doubt many know of this or use it. I see no way, other than through publicity and the retailers, to make people aware.

Member

That’s why I posted the link. I’ve frequently post links to the Electrical Safety First website that sends emails about recent recalls of electrical appliances: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls/

I presume that those who suffer food allergies are informed that they can receive notifications. The website of the GP practice that I used to visit had the link on their website. I agree that retailers should publicise the Food Standards Agency’s notification system.

Member

A question asked in the intro was whether listeria is destroyed by cooking. Which? seemed to ignore it. As far as I know cooking does destroy it. Hoever we must presumably consider inadequate cooking.

The word “scandal” is used to describe the problem by Which? in the intro. This suggests it was done deliberately. Is that fair?

Member
David Mortlock says:
14 July 2018

All of the products containing sweetcorn were removed from stock before we visited our local Tesco over a week ago, but no details were given as to why. After seeing the Which? warning we checked our freezer and found a pack BBE 2020. I contacted Tesco customer relations and was advised to return them to our store “with a receipt” – we found one and were refunded in cash at the price we paid, which was the same as the bar code scanner said they would be , if they were in stock.
It would seem that the system works, or it did for us.

Member

I went to Sainsbury’s yesterday but forgot to take the part-used packet of frozen mixed vegetables with me. I cannot produce a receipt and wonder why that is necessary: it is obvious from the name on the own-label product that it was bought from Sainsbury’s; it might have been me or it might have been my wife. If I spend time going through our home delivery back orders I might find it, but not necessarily. I suppose if it was a branded product a store could reasonably refuse to give a refund without proof of purchase but since they are going to claim against the manufacturers I think such nit-picking is unnecessary.

Food safety is more important than financial recompense, and in any case we have already eaten half the vegetables, so I shall probably thaw the remainder out, let them dry, and then put them in the waste food caddy for the council to take away and turn into energy.

Whatever you do – don’t put them out for the birds.

Member
peter murden says:
14 July 2018

These items represent a very useful assessment of the frozen food risks and it is important that all households should be aware of them.

Member
Andy Evans says:
15 July 2018

I bought a bag of frozen veg for my dogs – they’re on a raw food diet so I add a couple of handfuls of frozen veg to their food. They both developed severe diarrhea and we were baffled as to why. I only found out about the listeria outbreak after I’d finished the bag and thrown away the packaging. I’m relieved to say that they have both recovered but it was three or four days of grumbly tummies, lethargy and worry.