Australia's largest supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles have recalled 30 types of packaged lettuce amid a salmonella outbreak that has so far infected at least 54 people, the media reported on Friday.
Local southern Australian supplier Tripod Farmers had grown the greens, which retailers suspect may have been contaminated by fertiliser-tainted water, affecting the lettuce which was distributed in Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and South Australia, EFE news reported.
Grocery chains buying from Tripod Farmers (including Coles, Woolworths, 7-Eleven, and diet food delivery services Lite n'Easy and Aussie Farmers Direct) have said the contaminated products were stripped from shelves as soon as they were made aware of the gastro outbreak sickening consumers.
"Coles has taken immediate steps to remove from sale a selection of pre-packaged lettuce," the company posted on its Facebook page, though consumers complained the chain - which owns 770 supermarkets - was still selling the toxic products.
More than a dozen staff and students at a school in Victoria have also reported eating burgers and souvlaki (small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer) made with the tainted lettuce, but as of yet none have reported falling ill.
Australian health authorities have called on people experiencing salmonella poisoning symptoms - including fever, headache, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration - to seek medical advice to prevent complications, which in rare cases can include septicemia, or blood poisoning.