Public Health England (PHE) is investigating the source of listeria infections linked to pre-packed sandwiches following the deaths of three hospital patients.
PHE, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local authorities are investigating after two patients died at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and one at Aintree Hospital.
Sandwiches and salads linked to a total of six cases of listeria infections in England have been withdrawn and are no longer being produced while investigations continue.
PHE said the affected products were withdrawn from hospitals when links to the infection were first identified.
The supplier, The Good Food Chain, has voluntarily ceased production while the investigation continues.
It said: “Following investigations by Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency, The Good Food Chain has confirmed that its production facility in Stone, Staffordshire, was cross contaminated by an ingredient from one of its approved meat suppliers.
“Working with its environmental health officer, The Good Food Chain has taken the difficult decision to voluntarily close its production facility to enable it to eradicate the issue and ensure it can continue to supply a safe product to customers and consumers.”
Meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats and supplied to The Good Food Chain has received a positive test result for listeria. The producer has also voluntarily ceased production.
Currently no cases of the infection have been reported in Scotland or Wales.
Dr Nick Phin, deputy director at the National Infection Service at PHE, said: “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.
“To date, there have been no associated cases identified outside healthcare organisations, and any risk to the public is low.”
Dr Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer at the FSA, added: “We have taken action along with local authorities to minimise 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.”
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