THREE hospital patients have died after an outbreak of listeria linked to pre-packed sandwiches, Public Health England revealed today.
Six seriously ill patients were infected at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Three of those patients have passed away.
The supplier, The Good Food Chain, has since pulled sandwiches and salads, as an investigation is launched.
The business had been supplied by North Country Cooked Meats – with tests since showing 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.
A PHE spokesperson said the items of food were no longer being produced.
The affected products were also pulled from hospitals when the links to the listeria infections were first identified.
Following the product withdrawal, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland have written to their respective NHS Trusts and Boards to ensure that they are following appropriate food storage and handling protocols and to provide clinical guidance.
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.”
The Good Food Chain supplies universities, businesses and sporting venues with sandwiches.
On their website, they state: “We’re proud to be revolutionising sandwiches for healthcare patients. Giving you more for less – making them fresh, tasty, nutritious, attractive and incredible value for money – is our mission.
“Our products are designed around today’s patients – to give them a coffee shop style sandwich in bed.”
They added: “Our customers enjoy quality products at the right price. They have peace of mind that all our products are lovingly hand prepared in a safe environment, as you would in your own kitchen.”
Dr Colin Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer at the FSA said: “Our sympathies are with the families of those 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 how the outbreak occurred and if further steps are required to protect vulnerable groups.”
Around 166 annual cases of listeria are recorded in England and Wales.