An international catering kitchen at Brisbane Airport that provides thousands of in-flight meals has been closed after a dangerous bacteria was found on kitchen equipment.
Listeria was found at Alpha Catering's catering kitchen at Brisbane Airport this afternoon and it was immediately closed by Queensland Health and Brisbane City Council.
Listeria can cause food poisoning and is particularly dangerous to pregnant women, with even a mild case able to cause a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or a premature birth.
The discovery was confirmed yesterday afternoon by a spokesman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.
"Apparently their (Alpha Catering) own quality assurance testing picked up listeria on some of their equipment today," he said.
"Listeria is a danger to pregnant women in particular and they called in Brisbane City Council and they were shut down from 2pm."
Queensland Health chief health officer Jeannette Young said they would assist the council "to work with the business to ensure these issues are addressed".
"The suspension of this licence will remain in place until a number of corrective actions are undertaken by the business," Dr Young said.
Inspectors from the council and Queensland Health were inspecting the Alpha Catering kitchen facilities this afternoon.
"They have been looking over the equipment there," Mr Springborg's spokesman said.
"They have put an immediate suspension on their operations in place until corrective actions have been taken."
The company will have to run a "forensic clean" of the catering kitchen before it can be re-opened, the spokesman said.
"And it will be only be once the authorities are satisfied that they will be re-opened," he said.
The council also confirmed listeria had been found and the kitchen had been closed.
Alpha Catering Sydney-based sales and marketing manager Pat Osborne said he had only recently been told of the food poisoning problem.
"We have our operations people out there right now trying to learn what we can about it," he said.
Alpha Catering has operations in Australia, the United Kingdom and Asia.
It provides meals for Virgin Australia and Emirates flights out of Brisbane.
Virgin Australia spokeswoman Emma Copeland said they could not estimate how many meals had been affected.
"Alpha Catering are a key catering supplier for our flights departing Brisbane," she said.
"We are currently working with Alpha Catering and our other catering suppliers on a solution."
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