The supermarket giants have confirmed it’s safe to eat lettuce again after pre-packaged lettuce products linked to a salmonella outbreak forced a nationwide recall.
Coles and Woolworths have pulled the affected packaged lettuce – supplied by Victorian growers Tripod Farmers – from its shelves until further notice and assured The New Daily that any other lettuce products sold in-store were safe to consume.
Tripod Farmers recalled 30 of its retail products sold at supermarkets, as well as wholesale products distributed to hospitals, schools and businesses on Friday after numerous cases of people becoming sick after consuming it.
The Department of Health confirmed the number of salmonella cases in Victoria had increased to 62.
Weight loss company Lite N’ Easy was also caught up in the recall, instructing consumers not to eat specific pre-packaged affected lunches that contained lettuce, while 7-Eleven recalled some of its pre-made sandwiches.
The farm at the heart of a salmonella outbreak said it could learn the cause of the contamination in the coming days as a thorough investigation into the cause was underway.
A Woolworths spokesperson told The New Daily: “Woolworths takes customer safety very seriously and we are currently not selling any Tripod Farmers products in our stores.”
The statement said, after much confusion, the only Woolworths Fresh Cuts salad products affected, with use-by dates on or before February 14, 2016, sold in Victoria, NSW and the ACT, were:
• Woolworths Select Fresh Cut Baby Spinach 100g
• Woolworths Select Fresh Cut Salad Mix 100g
• Woolworths Select Fresh Cut Baby Rocket 100g
• Fresh Cut Loose Baby Spinach 1kg
• Fresh Cut Salad Loose Mesculin 1kg
“No other Woolworths Fresh Cuts salad products are affected,” a statement by Woolworths said.
“Additionally, Woolworths Fresh Cuts salad products sold in other states are not affected.
“These products were supplied directly to Woolworths by Tripod Farmers. Tripod Farmers does not supply any other products, or any products in other states, directly to Woolworths.”
Tripod Farmers supply Woolworths in Victoria, NSW and the ACT only.
Meanwhile, a Coles spokesperson told The New Daily that “no products grown by the supplier affected by the recall will go back on sale until an investigation into the cause was complete”.
Coles said in a statement on its website that Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania were not affected. Whole lettuces were also not affected.
It said it was liaising with the supplier and the regulators regarding further steps.
Any customers from either store who believed they may be suffering from symptoms should seek medical advice.
Customers should not consume the product and return it to their nearest supermarket for a full refund.
Tripod Farmers investigating
Investigations were underway to determine whether a contaminated water supply, fertiliser or something else at the Bacchus Marsh facility was to blame and results were expected this week.
But a Health Department spokesman said it could take “some weeks” before the cause of the outbreak was determined.
Tripod Farmers managing director Frank Ruffo said the company was focused on the health and safety of consumers, establishing the cause of the problem, and fixing it.
“In the interests of public safety, we have recalled the entire production batches from which the positive samples were detected,” Mr Ruffo said.
Tripod Farmers suspended some of its farming and processing operations while the investigation was being carried out and until the problem had been fully identified and fixed.
But the company was given the go-ahead by authorities to resume business after a site inspection and “superwash” of the facility last week.
On Saturday afternoon, authorities increased the number of salmonella cases in Victoria from 54 to 62, but food histories had not yet been conducted on the new patients.
This meant the eight new cases were not confirmed as lettuce-related.
Other states and territories were examining up to 30 possible cases of salmonella infection but whether the cases were linked to the outbreak strain in Victoria was still yet to be confirmed.
– with AAP