The discovery that packs of pre-sliced chicken sold by the supermarket chain Coles were contaminated with listeria, has prompted a recall of the product from stores in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland and Coles Online.
The cause of the listeria contamination, found in the chicken during routine product testing, is now under investigation.
The products affected are the 'You'll love Coles sliced-chicken breast' 2 x 50g packs with a 'best before' date of October 7 which was sold in Coles, BI-LO and Pick 'n Pay stores.
Listeria monocytogenes bacteria were found in the chicken which came from a single supplier and checks are being made to track down the source and reason for the contamination.
While no cases of ill health have been reported, it is unclear how much of the sliced chicken had been sold - Coles says no other products are affected.
Coles supermarkets is a part of Wesfarmers, Australia's second largest retailer and this latest recall is the 7th regarding listeria-tainted products in Australia this year.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) which sets food standards in both countries says the fact that the recalls occur before consumers become sick illustrates that the system is working.
Foodborne disease are a concern for regulators and food industries worldwide and progress in food technology and changes in the demands of consumers, has led to the emergence of new microbiological hazards.
This in turn means there is a focus on foodborne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, which is a hardy bacteria able to grow in temperatures ranging from 4°C (39°F), the temperature of a refrigerator, to 37°C (99°F), the body's internal temperature.
Listeria monocytogenes are a worry because they can cause a condition known as listeriosis and while it is uncommon, and causes few or no symptoms in healthy people, in vulnerable people it can be very dangerous in that it can lead to meningitis, septicaemia and miscarriage.
Those most vulnerable are pregnant women, the elderly and those whose immune systems are already challenged in some way.
A listeria infection is usually caused by eating contaminated food - listeria bacteria are commonly found in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, nature and in some foods.
Some foods that have caused outbreaks of Listeria include hot dogs, deli meats, raw milk, cheeses (particularly soft-ripened cheeses like Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style "queso blanco"), raw and cooked poultry, raw meats, ice cream, raw vegetables, raw and smoked fish and the green lip mussel.
In Canada this year an outbreak of listeriosis traced to a factory owned by Maple Leaf Foods has been linked to 14 deaths and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 2,500 people in the U.S. become seriously ill with listeriosis each year and of these, about 500 die.