THE vegetable industry has rallied behind Tripod Farmers which voluntarily recalled a selection of pre-packaged salads yesterday after testing positive for salmonella.
Tripod Farmers is considered one of Australia’s leading salad farming companies covering some 800 hectares across Gippsland, western Melbourne and Mildura, with a processing facility in Bacchus Marsh.
Tripod Farmers initiated the consumer recall of its pre-packaged lettuce products on advice from the Victorian Health Department following detection of salmonella in three product samples.
The recall addresses products available from Coles, Bi-Lo (VIC, NSW, SA, NT & ACT), Woolworths (ACT, VIC & NSW) and trade outlets in NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, NT and ACT.
Fresh Produce Safety Centre technology manager Richard Bennett said the outbreak is unexpected due to the stringent food safety protocols in place across the industry.
"But that’s little comfort to those who have become ill as a consequence of this contamination," he said.
"The grower involved – Tripod farmers – and retailers such as Coles and Woolworths have well developed traceability and recall capacity and have been able to identify affected product and swiftly undertake a recall of unsold product.
"It’s now important that consumers heed the advice of health authorities and either discard the product or return it to the place of purchase."
Tripod Famers managing director Frank Ruffo said he was shocked at the test results.
"We put public safety first and foremost and comply with all Australian health and safety standards," he said.
“We will be doing everything within our power to determine how this has happened.
“We have commenced a thorough investigation and will work with health authorities to ensure we get to the bottom of this."
The production facility itself has undergone a full and thorough decontamination.
The company has a workforce of more than 400 people.
Ausveg national manager – scientific affairs Dr Jessica Lye said Tripod Farmers has been a long-term grower and supplier of leafy-vegetable products for local and export markets, and is a well-respected industry participant.
“Ausveg is currently working with Tripod Farmers and the Victorian Department of Health and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) following reports of salmonella infection linked to leafy vegetables,” Dr Lye said.
“The Australian vegetable industry is committed to ensuring that food recall incidences are handled swiftly so that consumers can have confidence in their vegetable produce.
“The Victorian Department of Health has advised consumers not to eat the pre-packaged food products in question, indicating consumers should either return them to their place of purchase for a refund or throw it out.”
Frank Ruffo was awarded the 2012 Ausveg Grower of the Year title.
In 2009, the business was awarded the Primary Producer of the Year Award at the NAB Agribusiness Awards for Excellence.
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