'Deadly' frozen sweetcorn could be cause of listeriosis outbreak

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Corn concern: the FSA says frozen sweetcorn is the likely source of an ongoing outbreak of listeriosis across Europe
Corn concern: the FSA says frozen sweetcorn is the likely source of an ongoing outbreak of listeriosis across Europe
Warnings to cook frozen vegetables thoroughly have been issued after tests found frozen sweetcorn was responsible for listeriosis cases across the Continent.

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), frozen sweetcorn could be the source on an ongoing outbreak of the foodborne illness, caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

Since 2015, 47 cases of infection have been reported in countries including Austria (2 cases), Denmark (4), Finland (23), Sweden (7) and the UK (11) and nine patients have died, including two from the UK, according to a report by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Likely source

The FSA website states: “People should always follow manufacturers’ instructions when preparing their food.

“If the product is not labelled as ‘ready to eat’, the cooking instructions should always be followed before eating the food hot or cold.

“Frozen sweetcorn is the likely source of an ongoing outbreak of listeriosis affecting five European countries including the UK.

“Listeriosis is a rare but serious foodborne illness caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes that can be more serious for those individuals who have weakened immune systems and also the elderly, pregnant women and infants."

Thoroughly cooked

The same strains of L. monocytogenes have been detected in frozen vegetables produced by the same Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

This suggests the strains have persisted in the processing plant, despite the cleaning and disinfection procedures that were carried out.

It advised that to reduce the risk of infection, non ready-to-eat frozen vegetables should be thoroughly cooked.

Listeriosis is one of many food contaminants that can kill diners.​ Bacteria contamination can occur after food is cooked, but before it is packaged, and when food is handled such as on slicing machines.

Related topics: News