FSA issues update on listeria investigation

The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland are continuing to investigate foods linked to listeria infections in hospitals, currently only finding cases in England.

To date, all of the cases linked to the current incident have involved people from vulnerable groups in healthcare organisations who were being treated for existing medical conditions. All products linked to the current cases have been withdrawn and food chain investigations continue.

North Country Quality Foods, which supplies meats produced by North Country Cooked Meats, took action once a link was confirmed to withdraw products that might pose a risk of listeria infection. This withdrawal notification instructed businesses not to use the food or distribute it further. North Country Cooked Meats and North Country Quality Foods both remain closed.

The Good Food Chain, who were supplied with ingredients from North Country Cooked Meats, has withdrawn all products from hospitals and other businesses and has ceased production.

Chief operating officer at the FSA, Dr Colin Sullivan, said: "Our sympathies remain with the families of the 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 the cause of the outbreak to prevent a reoccurrence."

Listeria is widespread in the environment and can contaminate a range of foods. However, all reported cases of listeria linked to food production are fully investigated to ensure public safety is being protected. The FSA says low levels of listeria are legally permitted in some foods, and that the risk to the general population is low and infections are rare.

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