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​Food safety lawyer welcomes government investigation into listeria outbreak

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised a “full and thorough” investigation of the listeria outbreak in hospitals during a session of the House of Commons today.

17 June 2019

Five people are suspected to have died following the outbreak of listeria. Mr Hancock reported to the Commons that the NHS has identified  confirmed cases of listeria in hospitals between April 14 and May 28 this year.
 
He said that all the cases were linked to sandwiches from a single supplier, adding: "I promise there will be a full and thorough investigation, and severe consequences if there is any evidence of wrongdoing.”
 
During the debate in the Commons shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth called for greater investment in hospital catering so that food can be made in-house.
 
Last week Public Health England confirmed that two of the patients who died were at Manchester Royal Infirmary and another was at Aintree Hospital. Matt Hancock has reportedly confirmed today that eight hospitals in seven NHS Trusts have reported cases of listeria. These include Leicester Royal Infirmary and two hospitals in Western Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, along with hospitals in Derby, Liverpool, Manchester and Wexham.
 
Listeria is a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Usually the symptoms of listeria are mild, however, it can be particularly dangerous for those already in ill-heath and for pregnant women. 
 
Michelle Victor, solicitor at Leigh Day specialising in food safety, said:
 
"We welcome the Government’s announcement of an investigation into the listeria outbreak but remain concerned that there is still uncertainty about how and where the source of the contamination occurred. This needs to be rectified urgently to reassure the public that food supplied in hospitals is safe. We would encourage the Government to overhaul how food is supplied to hospitals. In 2014 FSA published a report which identified concerns about sandwiches being supplied to the NHS and the risk of listeria when they are not refrigerated. Cost cutting that forces hospitals to outsource food supplies should not be the priority over patient safety.”

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