Three people in hospitals in England died from the outbreak while another three are seriously ill, according to Public Health England. The deaths happened at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
“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 agency stated.
The listeria outbreak was traced to pre-packed sandwiches, Public Health England said in a press release on June 7. The company that produced the sandwiches, the Good Food Chain, has voluntarily ceased production as officials probe the outbreak.
Meat sourced by the company from North Country Cooked Meats tested positive for the outbreak strain of listeria. The business has also voluntarily ceased production.
There was no information about the incident listed on the Good Food Chain website.
The website states in its “Who We Are” section: “We’re obsessed about good food, made the proper way (by hand).”
“Like all good teams, we are an assorted bunch. We have the dreamers, who bring you new, exciting Limited Editions. The tasters, who visit producers to bring you the best regional ingredients. Most importantly, our sandwich & salad chefs (the real hard-workers) lovingly hand-make our yummy products for you,” it added.
The company says it gets many ingredients from local sources including ham, chicken, and cheese.
The sandwiches and salads produced by the company were pulled from hospitals when they were linked to the listeria outbreak.
Aintree hospital release statement after sandwich death https://t.co/N0IUWjQFl8
— Liverpool Echo (@LivEchonews) June 7, 2019
“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. Nick Phin, deputy director at the National Infection Service at Public Health England, said in a statement.
“To date, there have been no associated cases identified outside healthcare organizations, and any risk to the public is low.”
Dr. Colin Sullivan, COO at the Food Standards Agency, added: “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.”
BREAKING: Three dead after eating sandwiches infected with listeria given in hospital. https://t.co/hYbkc6creR
— Metro (@MetroUK) June 7, 2019
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, according to Public Health England.
The time between being exposed to the bacteria and developing the illness can be up to 70 days.
“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,” Public Health England stated.
England and Wales usually have on average 166 annual cases with an average of 46 annual deaths between the years of 2010 to 2016.
Because of the length of time, there could be more cases in the outbreak.
“The company has ceased production and hopefully this can put an end to the outbreak,” Dr. Kimon Andreas Karatzas, associate professor in food microbiology at the University of Reading, told The Sun. “However, due to a relatively long incubation period it’s possible that there could potentially be some more cases.”