Public Health England (PHE), The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Public Health Wales (PHW), Food Standards Scotland (FSS), Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and a number of local authorities are investigating the source of listeria infections linked to pre-packed sandwiches.
Six seriously ill hospital patients in England were found to be suffering from listeria resulting in the deaths of three. Sandwiches and salads linked to the cases have been withdrawn and the supplier, The Good Food Chain, has voluntarily ceased production while the investigation continues.
The business had been supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria. This business and North Country Quality Foods who it distributes through, have also voluntarily ceased production.
Currently there are no cases in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Listeria infection in healthy people is usually either unnoticed or may cause very mild illness. However, it can have more serious consequences for some people, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions and pregnant women. The health risk to the public remains low.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and Health Protection Scotland (HPS) are also involved in the investigation.
The sandwiches and salads affected are no longer being produced while investigations continue and the affected products were withdrawn from hospitals when the links to the listeria infections were first identified.
Dr Nick Phin, deputy director at the National Infection Service at PHE said: “Our thoughts are with the families of those patients who have sadly 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.
“To date, there have been no associated cases identified outside healthcare organisations, and any risk to the public is low.”
Dr Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer at the FSA, added: “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.”