Sunday, 27 Sep 2020

Three dead after being given pre-packed sandwiches infected with listeria

An investigation has been launched following the death of three patients who had been given pre-packed sandwiches infected with listeria.

The sandwiches and salads were supplied to hospitals by The Good Food Chain, which has voluntarily ceased production while the investigation continues.

Public Health England has announced the infection was diagnosed in six seriously ill hospital patients in England and three of those have died.

The outbreak was identified after the meat, supplied by North Country Cooked Meats, tested positive for a strain of listeria and the affected products were immediately removed from hospitals.

North Country Quality Foods who is linked to the hospital supplier, has also voluntarily ceased production.

PHE said the risk of the outbreak spreading is low as the bacteria has not been found outside healthcare organisations.

So far, no cases have been found in Scotland or Wales.

A UK-wide investigation into the outbreak will now be conducted by numerous local authorities, PHE and health bodies such as The Food Standards Agency, Public Health Wales, Food Standards Scotland and Health Protection Scotland.

Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director at the National Infection Service at PHE said: ‘Our thoughts are with the families of those patients who have died.

‘We, along with the FSA, colleagues in local authorities and the NHS have worked quickly to determine the likely cause of this outbreak and taken action to reduce the risk to the public’s health.’

Dr Colin Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer at the FSA said: ‘Our sympathies are with the families of those patients who have tragically passed away.

‘We have taken action along with local authorities to minimise the risk based on the evidence so far. The FSA will continue to investigate how the outbreak occurred and if further steps are required to protect vulnerable groups.’

What is listeria?

Listeriosis is a rare infection and for most people it goes unnoticed or there are mild symptoms of gastroenteritis that usually last a short time without the need for treatment.

The time between exposure to the organism and the development of the illness can be up to 70 days.

Occasionally, however, a more serious infection develops and spreads to the blood stream or brain. This can happen in people who have serious underlying health conditions and can also occur in pregnant women. Pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions can find more information on the NHS website.

The best way to prevent listeriosis is to practice good food hygiene. We advise that chilled food should be put in a fridge or other suitable equipment as soon as it is delivered. Food that is required to be chilled is not permitted to be left out of temperature control for long periods of time.

Food products are permitted to be out of temperature control for limited periods, providing there is no risk to food safety, to accommodate the practicalities of transport and storage.

This is a breaking news story, more to follow.

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