Greenyard sees cost of fatal Listeria recall topping €30m

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Greenyard counts the cost of a massive recall linked to nine deaths ©iStock
Greenyard counts the cost of a massive recall linked to nine deaths ©iStock
Greenyard Foods has estimated that the cost of its massive Listeria recall will total at least €30m after the Belgian vegetable processor was forced to pull frozen vegetables processed at its Hungarian production plant from shelves across Europe.

In an update to the market issued today (17 July), Greenyard’s initial estimates forecast that around one-third of the cost will be registered as an impairment charge on the balance sheet, with the remaining two-thirds expected to have a cash impact. The company said 80% of the current expense will constitute non-recurring items.

Greenyard added that it is not currently possible to provide an aggregate assessment of the potential financial impact of the outbreak.

Containing the outbreak

Over the past two weeks, Greenyard has recalled frozen vegetables produced at its Hungarian production facility in Baja between August 2016 and June 2018.

Items from the facility were linked to an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes affecting Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom since 2015.

According to the EFSA, experts traced the contamination to Greenyard’s facility whole genome sequencing to identify the food source, which initially was thought to be limited to frozen corn. As of 15 June 2018, 47 cases including nine deaths had been reported, the European food safety regulator said.

“The available information confirms the contamination at the Hungarian plant. However, further investigations, including thorough sampling and testing, are needed to identify the exact points of environmental contamination at the Hungarian plant. The same recommendation applies to other companies belonging to the same commercial group if environmental contamination is detected,”​ EFSA noted.

Greenyard confirmed it is working with the authorities to trace the cause of contamination. The group stressed it is taking “all possible actions​” to contain the outbreak and address any other direct or indirect impact on Greenyard and its stakeholders.

The Hungarian plant has been closed and will not production restart until toe “root cause”​ of contamination has been identified.

The process of recalling relevant products from customers and consumers is “ongoing​”, with returned products being destroyed. In order to minimise disruption to its customers, Greenyard said it is helping to source “alternative supplies​”.

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