Simplot, the largest Australian manufacturer of frozen vegetables, is confident consumers here will not be put off buying the local product in the wake of the recall of imported frozen vegetables announced on Monday.
Popular brands of frozen vegetables are being recalled from supermarkets across Australia over fears of potential contamination by the listeria bacteria.
Earlier this year a listeria outbreak linked to contaminated rockmelons claimed six lives in NSW and Victoria.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) on Monday issued an alert for a number of brands of vegetable products across Aldi, Woolworths and IGA stores.
Some of the vegetables were imported from Europe, and the recall in Australia comes after recent recalls in the United Kingdom over the same contamination fears.
Only about 20 per cent of frozen vegetables sold in Australia are from overseas.
Australian frozen vegetables not affected
Simplot sells almost 40 per cent of all frozen vegetables in Australian supermarkets.
General manager of vegetables Adam Hanlon, said they had not seen a big reaction to consumer demand for their products.
“We are pretty certain there won’t be any impact on our Australian grown Birds Eye brand.
“The support we have had on social media has been overwhelming,” he said.
Carrots, peas, beans and broccoli are cooked, frozen and bagged at the Devonport Simplot facility.
ABC Rural: Jane Ryan
He said the company was very confident in its food safety programs for its Australian-grown produce but there was always the risk that consumers might question the [food] category.
“But we think frozen Australian vegetables are a fantastic healthy option for people.
He said the changes to the country of origin label would help the industry and help the consumer to buy locally grown produce.
“This may be a positive in pushing people back to Aussie vegetables and fruit,” he said.
A spokesperson for Coles said all Coles brand frozen vegetables were Australian grown and were not included in the recall.
The peak body for Australian vegetable growers, AUSVEG, has said the national recall involved imported products only, not locally grown produce.
Chief executive officer James Whiteside he did not think growers would be overly concerned and they had faith in the ability of the public to make informed decisions about the food that they buy.
Shoppers say they will me more careful
Shoppers outside a Woolworths in Haymarket in Sydney said they were most likely to be a bit more careful in regards to what vegetables they buy.
“I tend to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. The only frozen vegetables I buy are the Asian stir fry mixes. But just frozen vegetables per se, other than frozen peas which are Australian anyway, no I don’t. This only affects the imported products anyway, so it won’t affect me.”
“We will try not to buy anymore and go for the fresh. Imported ones — we don’t trust them anymore.”
“I’ll probably perhaps just be a bit more selective as to what I’ve bought. I would probably just note what brands have been recalled and just avoid those. But it wouldn’t affect me buying Australian frozen veggies.”
“I haven’t heard about it, but I never buy frozen vegetables anyway. So I don’t think think it will affect my decision.”