A death as part of a wider Listeria outbreak in Wiltshire, U.K. has tragically made the news after the person in question had consumed a soft cheese and then died from Listeriosis.
Listeriosis is a serious, predominantly food-borne infection caused by the bacteria Listeria Monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, the elderly, new-borns, and those with weakened immune systems. The bacteria are mainly found in chilled ready-to-eat foods such as pre-prepared sandwiches, soft cheeses, and smoked fish. Symptoms can include high temperatures and sickness. It is generally accepted that the incubation period can range from 3-70 days which makes identifying a common food source difficult.
Reducing the risks:
- Suppliers- Ensure your suppliers have a robust and fully integrated food safety management system that can be provided, monitored, and evaluated where necessary. Ensure the temperature control of products where required is maintained and made available upon receipt of delivery. An integrated pest control management system will also reduce the risk of pests carrying the disease to gain access to your facility.
- Training- Ensure all staff are trained on the sources, danger signs and risk factors in relation to listeria and have adequate knowledge and means of controlling these.
- Premises and Equipment- Your premises should be designed as to minimise the risk of contamination from all sources. Maintenance of floors, walls and ceilings is paramount to allow for effective cleaning and any damage should be picked up during inspection/ audit.
- Cleaning- An effective cleaning regime of your entire facility and its equipment is crucial in controlling listeria. Training on what chemicals to use for what task and how to handle and then use these products is essential in ensuring that surfaces and equipment are adequately sanitised/ disinfected. Cleaning equipment must also be clean itself.
- Storage- Store ready to eat foods as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions (<5⁰C) and never keep or serve food past its ‘use by date’.
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