Three hospital patients have died after a listeria outbreak from pre-packaged sandwiches, according to Public Health England.
Sandwiches and salads linked to the cases have been withdrawn and the supplier, The Good Food Chain has ceased production while an investigation begins.
The cases of the listeria infections were in six seriously ill patients at two hospitals – Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Three of those patients have sadly died.
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.
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North Country Cooked Meats and North Country Quality Foods who they distribute through, have also voluntarily ceased production.
Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director at the National Infection Service at Public Health England 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."
What is Listeria monocytogenes?
Listeria symptoms can be similar to flu and include high temperature, muscle ache or pain Sufferers may also feel chills, feeling sick, vomiting or diarrhoea. More serious cases can see victims struck down with meningitis.
The 65 and over, pregnant women and babies less than a month old are most at risk of infestion. In serious cases it can cause meningitis.
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."
Listeria is a bacteria infection that can often go unnoticed or present only mild symptoms in most cases.
However, the infection can be more serious or even fatal in some circumstances, spreading to the blood stream or brain.
The sandwiches and salads affected are no longer being produced while investigations continue and the affected products were withdrawn from hospitals when the links to the listeria infections were first identified.
On The Good Food Chain's website, they state: "Whole Lotta Good' is brought to you by The Good Food Chain. For over 20 years we have supplied prestigious Universities, Business & Industry and Sporting Venues in the UK.
"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."
A spokesman for North Country Cooked Meats said: "At this stage, the company is currently co-operating fully with the environmental health and the FSA in their investigations, and a further statement will be issued in due course."
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