Export decline due to lethal Hungarian frozen vegetable?
In the first days of July, thousands of kilos of Hungarian frozen vegetable containing the harmful Listeria monocytogenes bacteria has been withdrawn from consumption. Now, a few weeks after the Greenyard-case, Hvg.hu writes about consequences.
As we have also reported at the beginning of July, refrigerated products of Greenyard produced in Baja, Hungary contained deadly bacteria and caused 9 of the 47 illnesses to be fatal. The infection caused symptoms similar to food poisoning.
Although the vegetables have been exported to Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the United Kingdom, later it turned out that a lot of Hungarian products also contained vegetables produced by Greenyard. Some items of Aldi, Metro Hungary and Tesco have been withdrawn, too, as Greenyard has been the supplier of all these brands.
On the contrary, Hungarian authority NÉBIH found that the company succeeded to meet regulations and was not to be blamed for what happened.
The authorities claimed to have found everything in order during the inspections made in the factory earlier this year. According to NÉBIH, it is not the company’s fault that the vegetables – which were supposed to be consumed following thorough cooking – caused illnesses and even death.
If this is true, why was the factory forced to close down from further production even before results of the test came out in July?
The Greenyard case – even if the company did nothing wrong – may result in a serious backlash in vegetable export. Until now, Hungary had a leading role in European sweet corn supply, with 90% of our total production of 65-70 thousand tons exported abroad.
Vagueness and uncertainty regarding the causes and origins of the bacteria do seem to adversely affect not only the company, but also Hungary’s role as a corn supplier.
As refrigerated vegetables are mostly similar to fresh ones and Greenyard occupies a stable position in the market, suppliers have nothing to worry about – says Ferenc Ledó, president of the Interprofessional Organisation for Fruit and Vegetable (FruitVeB).