Countdown baking ingredient prompts allergic reactions, staff claim

Staff members have reportedly broken out in rashes.
Staff members have reportedly broken out in rashes. Photo credit: Newshub

An ingredient used at Countdown bakeries has triggered allergic reactions for staff members.

Questions are being raised about the contents of a pre-mix flour, the brand of which has not been disclosed at this stage, which has caused Countdown staff to break out in a rash, as well as nausea and headaches. 

A Countdown spokesperson told Newshub the Woolworths-owned supermarket chain is speaking to the supplier and investigating. 

"We have had a small number of bakers raise concerns about a pre-mix flour used in our bakeries. We immediately asked our supplier to check the product as it has been newly introduced in to our stores," the spokesperson told Newshub. 

"They, along with the manufacturer of the pre-mix, reviewed the product and did not identify any issues which would contribute to any of the concerns reported. 

"There has not been any change to the formulation or the allergen status of the new product and the ingredients used are the same as those used in other products that have been supplied for many years and have caused no issues.  

"As well as checking with the supplier, we are still undertaking our own investigations."

First Union, which represents workers at Countdown, claims the ingredient has prompted a range of concerning reactions for staff members. 

"Some people had no effect whatsoever, and some not only got rashes on their hands but also felt headachy and perhaps a bit nauseous," said union spokesperson Tai Williams. 

"We would have hoped by now we'd know some more about what was going on, and that perhaps, even in the meantime, the flour had been withdrawn just in case."

It comes after a Countdown in Christchurch was reportedly found to be selling long life milk cartons that had long passed their best before date.