Cause of listeria outbreak discovered

Posted by James Ferre on 20th August 2009

A NSW company has been linked to the recent Listeria food poisoning outbreak on Virgin Blue airlines flights that led to two pregnant women giving birth prematurely.

NSW Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, said the case had been linked to GMI Food Wholesalers Pty Ltd, which trades as Australian Poultry and Food Wholesalers .

“Results of thorough testing conducted by the Food Authority and Queensland authorities show that the Listeria bacteria came from a cooked, diced chicken product supplied by the company to a Virgin Blue food supplier,” Mr Macdonald advised.

A national public health alert was triggered when Queensland authorities reported that two pregnant women gave birth prematurely and five other people contracted listeriosis after eating chicken wraps served on Virgin Blue flights out of Brisbane.

“The Authority acted swiftly to identify the supplier and, following investigations by Authority officers, as a public health precaution immediately placed a prohibition order on the company on 4 August,” Mr Macdonald said. “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.”

“The prohibition order means the company is forbidden from producing or selling the implicated chicken product and any other ready-to-eat meats manufactured at the premises.”

The order will remain in place until further notice.

“Consumers can be assured that the contaminated product that was sent to Queensland has been isolated and removed from the marketplace,” the Minister concluded.