- 15 June 2019
- 3 min read
Two more patients die from listeria outbreak
The source of the infection is understood to relate to products supplied by The Good Food Chain.
Two more patients have died after eating pre-packaged sandwiches and salads linked to a listeria outbreak, taking the total number of deaths to five, Public Health England has said.
The source of the infection is understood to relate to products supplied by The Good Food Chain and the affected sandwiches and salads have since been withdrawn from hospitals.
PHE said evidence suggests all the deceased ate the products before the withdrawal took place on May 25.
The investigations into the outbreak are ongoing, PHE said, and are being conducted in partnership with the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The first three victims who died were at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool.
It is understood that of the latest two listeria deaths, one died after the first three confirmed cases.
The other patient died before the three listeria cases that were reported last week, but has only just been discovered to be linked to the same strain of the bacteria.
The trusts where the latest two victims were receiving treatment have not yet been named, but PHE said there are seven trusts across the country dealing with listeria cases.
The first case showed symptoms on April 25 and sandwiches and salads were withdrawn on May 25, as soon as a link with the cases was suspected.
It is understood that some of the products were sold at hospitals while others were given to patients.
The Good Food Chain, which supplied 43 NHS trusts across the UK, has voluntarily ceased production.
Food Standards Scotland said there continues to be no listeria cases in Scotland. The business was supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which has since tested positive for the outbreak strain of listeria and also stopped production.
Listeria infection is rare and usually causes a mild illness in healthy people.
However, it can have more serious consequences among those with pre-existing medical conditions, pregnant women and those with a weak immune system.
"Given this latest tragic news it is vital the Health Secretary provides a full oral statement to MPs in the Commons on Monday" - Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth
The Good Food Chain said in a statement: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families of those who have died and anyone else who has been affected by this outbreak.
“The underlying cause of it remains unclear.
“We understand that the investigations being carried out are complicated and will involve a number of stakeholders, but we hope the authorities will pursue their inquiries with all urgency so the wider industry can learn any lessons as soon as possible, and so those affected do not have to wait too long for answers.
“For our part, we are co-operating fully and transparently with the FSA and other authorities, and will continue to do so.”
North Country Cooked Meats said previously: “At this stage the company is currently co-operating fully with the environmental health and the FSA in their investigations, and a further statement will be issued in due course.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “All our thoughts must be with the families who have lost a loved one.
“These sandwiches were distributed across a number of trusts which is why last week I called on ministers to update MPs urgently on action taken to date.
"Patients and NHS staff will expect reassurance and ministers must outline what checking procedures on batches are in place now and for the future.
“Given this latest tragic news it is vital the Health Secretary provides a full oral statement to MPs in the Commons on Monday.
High quality nutritious food is integral to care. It’s time for a review of hospital food and the adoption of minimum standards.”