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Patient lucky to be alive after contracting Listeria from pre-packaged sandwich

A woman who contracted Listeria after being served an infected sandwich while in hospital says she believes she's lucky to be alive.

Tanya Marston has Crohn's Disease, and was being treated at a hospital in Kent. However she was served a sandwich with ingredients from a company in Salford, the source of a Listeria bug that's claimed three lives.

Ms Marston said she was on intravenous therapy with seven different anti-biotics, one of which was to protect her brain from meningitis.

She has received a letter of apology from the hospital and Public Health England says that it has taken action to contain the outbreak and that the risk to the public is low.

Two of the patients died at Manchester Royal Infirmary. The third death happened at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

In total, six hospital patients who were seriously ill contracted listeria from the sandwiches.

Credit: Good Food Chain

The Good Food Chain, which is based in Staffordshire and produced the sandwiches, has voluntarily ceased production while an investigation is underway.

Meat for their products had been produced by North Country Cooked Meats, based in Salford, Greater Manchester, who have also ceased production.

A spokesman for the company said it "is currently co-operating fully with the environmental health and the Food Standards Agency in their investigations, and a further statement will be issued in due course."

At this time our thoughts are with the people who have been affected by these very sad events.

North Country Cooked Meats Ltd is a food business that has been producing quality cooked meat products since 1983. We are currently working closely with the Environmental Heath and the FSA and are fully co-operating with their enquiries and will continue to do everything possible to aid their investigations.

We are inspected in accordance with FSA licencing requirements on a six-monthly basis by our local authority for the production and sale of cooked meats products.

Over our many years we’ve been approved to global food standards by external third-party auditors. This has seen us achieve the highest grades through our diligent food safety systems.

– North Country Cooked Meats Ltd spokesperson

It's now emerged that the public and patients were kept in the dark about the risk for two weeks.

Public Health England sent a letter to all relevant NHS trusts advising them not to serve any of the company's sandwiches to "patients in vulnerable groups" on the 26th May.

However the public weren't notified until Friday 7th June.

Health bosses say a multi-agency investigation confirmed the match of the type of listeria in the patients and the source late last Wednesday.

This has been a complex multi-agency investigation and throughout the multi-agency team have acted swiftly to protect those considered to be at the greatest risk.

– Dr Meera Chand, Consultant Microbiologist, Public Health England

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