Since the multi-agency investigation began into listeria cases linked to sandwiches and salads, Public Health England (PHE) has been analysing previously known cases of listeria from the past 2 months to see if they are linked to this outbreak. Whilst any risk to the public remains low, PHE’s Whole Genome Sequencing analysis has identified an additional 3 cases of listeria linked to this outbreak. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to nine. All of the cases of listeria infection were in hospital patients in England.
Sadly, one of the seriously ill 6 patients PHE confirmed last week has since died.
One of the patients confirmed today as linked to the outbreak had already died. This brings the number of deaths linked to this outbreak to 5.
The affected sandwiches and salads were withdrawn from hospitals when the links to the listeria infections were first identified and the multi-agency team then advised NHS organisations not to provide any Good Food Chain products to vulnerable patients. Evidence suggests that all individuals ate the affected products before the withdrawal took place in hospitals on the 25 May 2019. The food chain investigations continue.
Sandwiches and salads linked to the patients have been withdrawn and the supplier, The Good Food Chain, has voluntarily ceased production while the investigation continues. This business had been supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria. This business and North Country Quality Foods who they distribute through, have also voluntarily ceased production.
Dr Nick Phin, Public Health England, said:
To date, there have been no patients linked to this incident outside healthcare organisations, but we continue to investigate. Swift action was taken to protect patients and any risk to the public is low. PHE is continuing to analyse all recent and ongoing samples of listeria from hospital patients to understand whether their illness is linked to this outbreak.
PHE is working very closely with the Food Standards Agency, NHS England and Improvement, as well as partner organisations in Scotland and Wales, to investigate this outbreak.
Dr Colin Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer at the FSA 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.
Whole Genome Sequencing is a laboratory tool used to investigate the DNA sequence of bacteria. Using this technology, we can identify matches between samples taken from patients with listeria and the food products under investigation to confirm whether patients are linked to the outbreak.