Deadly bacterial outbreak traced to Hungarian food plant; local media is mum

Hungary’s government-controlled media is mum about a serious outbreak connected to a Hungarian food plant. Since 2015 there have been 47 cases of listeria infection and nine patients have died. The fatality rate is 19%! (Read the Guardian’s article about the outbreak.)

The European Food Safety Authority has warned that the probable source of the listeria infection is a frozen food processing plant in Hungary. The outbreak is linked to frozen corn and possibly to other frozen vegetables (e.g. frozen spinach). Hospitalizations and deaths have been reported from five EU Member States: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. None from Hungary.

Hungary’s Food Safety Agency has identified the plant, it is located in the city of Baja and part of Greenyard food conglomerate. The company’s name is Pinguin Foods Hungary Kft.

The plant has already stopped production and has started to recall frozen vegetables produced between 13 August 2016 and 20 June 2018. It is suspected that infected food was shipped for two years! (Read Greenyard’s brief announcement here.)

Local media is quiet about the outbreak. We don’t know how big the plant is or how many people worked there. Did they sell products in Hungary? Why didn’t they notice and/or report the outbreak for years?

Hungary’s health system is in chaos with no reliable data on how many people die due to infections. Cases are underreported by hospitals and Napi.hu has reported that the data published on the website of the Hungarian National Center of Epidemiology is “not comprehensive.” Institutions elect not to report infection cases and they can do this without punishment, said the head of Semmelweis University’s Department of Epidemiology Mr. István Barcs. (Read about the infection problem here.)

Hungary’s “mafia economy”, the lack of transparency in infection cases and the Orbán government’s tight control of the media make it impossible to get reliable information.

Exercise caution when buying or consuming Hungarian made frozen food.

György Lázár

3 Comments

  1. When we moved to Hu in the 90s we used to buy Hu made in order to support the local businesses. By now we avoid Hu products/ produce /companies, although big brands often use local sourced , but we trust their quality control.

  2. Bon apetit !

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