Lessons from a Fatal Listeria Outbreak

Lessons from a Fatal Listeria Outbreak

Details are emerging from the recent Listeria outbreak linked to pre packed sandwiches in various hospital sites in England during the summer. As part of the wider outbreak which has now caused six fatalities one patient died in Royal Derby Hospital on June 8. The fridge in this hospital where pre packed sandwiches were stored was found during an inspection on 4 and 5 June by an Environmental Heath Officer from Derby City Council to be ineffective as it was found to be at temperatures above 8 oC. Sandwiches tested were found to be at temperatures from 9.4 oC to 13.1 oC. The report of the inspecting EHO highlighted the particular risks of this elevated temperature. There was an increased chance of the growth of harmful bacteria especially Listeria Monocytogenes, which can grow rapidly in warm temperatures and this also posed an increased risk to vulnerable consumers such as those in a hospital setting. Unfortunately a 52 year old cancer patient died on 8 June after eating a pre packed sandwich with systemic listeria infection found to be a contributing factor in his death.


The hospital has initiated a range of actions following this incident including tighter restrictions on the storage of sandwiches and high risk foods, revised ward kitchen temperatures monitoring and new equipment including fridges. In my opinion the main learning point is the absolute necessity of having a fit for purpose, robust HACCP implemented in your food business which includes storage as a CCP. This must be routinely monitored with established corrective actions and validation and verification as appropriate.  An integral part of this must be an effective food safety training regime which provides staff with the knowledge and tools to know what can adversely food safety and how to react if conditions arise which may put food safety in their premises at risk. The Listeria outbreak referenced here should be a cautionary tale for all food businesses.


The EHAI Primary Food Safety Course is recognised as the industry gold standard by food safety trainers, employers and enforcement agencies and is a practical step you can take today to help protect your business. Book an upcoming Food Hygiene Course/HACCP training course or contact an EHAI approved trainer