Three people have died in northern England and three more are seriously ill from food poisoning thought to have resulted from eating contaminated pre-packaged sandwiches served in hospitals, Public Health England (PHE) said on Friday.
The deaths were caused by an outbreak of listeria at hospitals run by the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the public health agency said in a statement.
Listeria is a bacteria that causes illness from contaminated food. It can kill in severe cases.
Sandwiches and salads linked to the cases have been withdrawn, it said. The supplier, The Good Food Chain, and one of its cooked meat suppliers, North Country Cooked Meats, have voluntarily ceased production while the investigation continues.
Nick Phin, an infection specialist at PHE, said that in this outbreak, the risk of further cases was relatively low, as was the risk to the general public.
“There have been no associated cases identified outside healthcare organisations,” he said in the statement. “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.”