Two more patients have died following an outbreak of listeria, which has been linked to pre-packed sandwiches served in hospitals.
The number of deaths linked to the outbreak has risen to five, Public Health England confirmed today.
The government body said that it had identified an additional three cases of listeria since launching its investigation, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to nine.
The outbreak is believed to have started in meat used in pre-packaged sandwiches and salads linked to supplier the Good Food Chain. While the outbreak was confirmed on 7 June, the first instances were identified in May – prompting the immediate withdrawal of the brand’s products and the voluntary ceasing of all its operations.
Public Health England has said all individuals affected consumed the products before their withdrawal on 25 May 2019. It added that the Good Food Chain had been supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria. North County Cooked Meats and North Country Quality Foods who it distributes through, have also voluntarily ceased production.
Dr Nick Phin of 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.”
Dr Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer at the Food Standards Agency added: “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.”