Annual English deaths due to listeria have doubled during the decade and one metropolitan borough is trying to do something about it by targeting pensioners in a campaign warning about the dangers of ready-to-eat meats.

Two of England’s 161 deaths by listeria last year were of Kirklees residents. Listeria deaths in 2000 throughout England totaled 88.

The Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, located in north central England, has about 401,000 residents.

Tracy Bousfield, senior manager for Kirklees environmental services, blames the listeria deaths on greater dependence on convenience foods, especially by the elderly.

“We believe cases in the over-60s have risen partly because their immune systems become less effective as they get older," she said. “But what is also happening is that they live in smaller households and are more likely to buy ready-to-eat foods that are pre-packed. We believe they may be keeping them longer or not using them within the dates.

And she urged people to keep their food chilled and be extra-vigilant about sell-by dates.

Read more about the anti-listeria campaign focused on pensioners in The Huddersfield Daily Examiner.