Dutch airline KLM has issued a warning after it came out that meat products contaminated with Listeria may have been served on some of its flights.

The RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) and NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) are investigating a Listeria outbreak linked to cold meat from a company called Offerman. The firm stopped production of meat items at its Aalsmeer location this past week.

Twenty patients have been reported over two years with three associated deaths and one woman having a miscarriage. A total of 80 patients with Listeria infection are reported to RIVM every year.

KLM traceability continues
KLM said it was informed by a meat supplier that one of their production sites might have been infected with Listeria. The contaminated products may have been served for breakfast in Business Class.

A KLM spokesman told Food Safety News that KLM Catering is investigating to determine the exact products and flights that were at risk.

“We hope to have more detailed information very soon. KLM proactively notified all passengers that can possibly be considered at risk based on the current information as provided by our suppliers.”

A KLM statement urged people to consult a general practitioner if they had any questions about their health or a potential infection.

“We apologize for the fact you might have been confronted with this and we hereby confirm that we’ve immediately stopped supplying our aircraft with these meat products. All currently served meals on board are completely safe to consume.”

Earlier this year, Air France took action in a different incident after Listeria was detected in a sandwich. Servair, supplier of the airline’s on-board catering service, reported Listeria was found in a tuna sandwich available from self-service on board buffets.

The sandwich was served in the economy and premium economy cabins of nine long-haul flights departing Paris Orly and Paris Charles de Gaulle between May 21 and 24, 2019. Servair withdrew all products from Air Food, the provider, on Air France flights.

Expanded Dutch recall
The foodborne outbreak in the Netherlands is caused by Listeria monocytogenes in cold meat such as charcuterie in sliced and pre-packed form.

Offerman’s customers in the Netherlands include Aldi, Bidfood, Jumbo, Sligro and Versunie. More than 100 products were affected in the Jumbo and Sligro recalls.

The Freshly, Kraak-Vers, Anur, Wahid and FairBeleg brands are also under recall. All meat products with the codes NL 429 EC and NL 214850 EC are implicated. For affected product names, codes and dates follow this link and open the PDF.

Offerman is a subsidiary of the company, Ter Beke, which issued a statement about the incident saying attention is primarily focused on organizing the recall of relevant products from the market, in collaboration with the NVWA and customers.

“This precautionary measure, which we deliberately rolled out very broadly, is implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible and in accordance with all established rules and procedures.”

Ter Beke representatives said they were “shocked” by the finding that the same Listeria strain was found in people in the Netherlands and the Offerman site in Aalsmeer.

“We have no further information on the allegation that this would indicate a causal relationship between the two. Offerman is in contact with the relevant authorities and we cooperate with all further investigations.”

A statement from the Dutch Retail Organization (CBL) said involved members took precautions by removing products from shelves and calling on consumers not to eat them and to return items.

The group said there was a need to share information between government and business as quickly as possible, adding it wanted to talk to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the NVWA about adequately sharing information with the supply chain.

Other affected countries

Product recall by Aldi

Distribution includes Aruba, Belgium, Curaçao, Germany, Luxembourg, Sint Maarten, Spain, Suriname, and the United Kingdom according to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

A statement from the Luxembourg government confirmed some products from Offerman were distributed in the country.

Aldi Luxembourg recalled all dates of Rosbif cuit 100-gram of the brand Délifin up to and including Oct. 13, 2019. While the product has been removed from stores some of it has been sold.

One of the products recalled by Albert Heijn

Authorities in Luxembourg said given the scale of measures taken in the Netherlands, additional withdrawals cannot be excluded but there have been no connected infections reported as yet in the country.

In Belgium, « Rôti de bœuf » of the brand Délifin with the same dates as in Luxembourg was recalled from Aldi stories. Supermarket Albert Heijn also withdrew Wahid brand charcuterie due to potential Listeria.

Belgian officials initially reported they had not been officially informed by NVWA so contacted Dutch authorities via the RASFF system and urged them to provide information on the situation including any additional deliveries to the country. In an updated statement, Belgian officials said further traceability information had been provided by Dutch authorities and more recalls were possible.

According to Sciensano (Belgian Institute for Health), there are about 75 listeriosis infections in Belgium each year.

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