An investigation is underway to discover how food provided by hospitals and served to patients became infected with the foodborne illness known as Listeria.
The deaths occurred in hospitals in the U.K.
“Sandwiches and salads linked to the cases have been withdrawn and the supplier, The Good Food Chain, has voluntarily ceased production while the investigation continues.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 Good Food Chain had been supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of 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.”
For some, Listeria is not a harmless illness.
“Occasionally, however, a more serious infection develops and spreads to the bloodstream or brain. This can happen in people who have serious underlying health conditions and can also occur in pregnant women.”
Considering all of the fatalities were patients in hospitals, it stands to reason that they were in the high-risk group.
According to authorities, no cases outside the hospital environment have been identified. They stress that there is no danger to the public-at-large at this time.
Medical officials have spoken out about the incident, sharing words of condolence for those who died.
Dr. Nick Phin, Deputy Director at the National Infection Service at PHE [Public Health England] said: “Our thoughts are with the families of those patients who have died.
“We, along with the FSA [Food Safety Authority], 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 added his words of condolence and reassurance: “Our sympathies are with the families of those patients who have tragically passed away.
“We have taken action along with local authorities to minimize 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.”