Tip of the Week

Three people have died and three are seriously ill in an outbreak of listeria linked to pre-packed sandwiches.

The six people diagnosed are hospital patients and had chosen the sandwiches from the hospital’s patients’ menu.  The sandwich and salad supplier is The Good Food Chain who also supply 43 hospital trusts, schools, universities and other businesses.  Sandwiches and salads linked to the outbreak have been withdrawn and production stopped.  It is thought that the cause of this food poisoning outbreak is cross contamination of an ingredient from one of its meat suppliers.

What is listeria

Listeria is the name of a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle.  It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk.  It can also live in food processing plants and contaminate a variety of processed meats.

Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator.  Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization.  Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium which can cause a type of food poisoning called listeriosis which can take up to 70 days for symptoms to appear.

Listeria is most commonly found in ready to eat deli foods such as sliced cooked meats, pates, soft cheese, smoked seafood, raw salad sprouts and dairy foods

How to reduce the risk of listeria contamination

  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurised) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurised milk in them.
  • Wash hands before and after any food preparation using antibacterial handwash soap
  • Wash and sanitise knives, worktops and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Use the correct colour coded chopping board to avoid cross contamination
  • Wash raw vegetables and fruit before preparation
  • Keep ready to eat foods separate from raw/dirty foods. Store in separate fridge or store ready to eat foods above raw foods
  • Keep food under strict temperature control – less than 8°C but ideally below 5°C
  • Cook high risk foods to a minimum of 75°C.

Alert

Always observe food USE BY dates.

Weekly Food Fact

Did you know that it is also possible to catch listeriosis from someone else who has it.  Ensure you have stringent handwashing procedures in your kitchen.

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