Precautionary steps

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IT has emerged that precautions have been taken at Craigavon Hospital following the recent listeria outbreak.

One elderly patient died following the outbreak at Antrim and Causeway hospitals while five other cases have been reported.

The ‘MAIL’ understands that pre-prepared food items have been taken out of circulation in the hospitals as a precaution while the outbreak is investigated.

The Public Health Agency are responsible for leading a detailed investigation into the potential source of an outbreak of Listeria among hospital patients in Northern Ireland.

As a precautionary measure, and while this investigation is ongoing, PHA has recommended that some pre-prepared foods should not be served to hospital in-patients.

This is a precautionary measure while the PHA, along with the Food Standards Agency, Environmental Health officials and HSC Trusts, continue to investigate the potential source of this outbreak.

PHA has taken steps to reassure patients, their relatives and the public by producing a patient and visitor information leaflet ‘Preventing food poisoning at home and in healthcare settings’ and also a short factsheet on Listeria.

Listeria is an uncommon infection in the hospital setting. It is usually food borne, most often found in ready-to-eat refrigerated and processed foods such as chilled meats, soft cheeses, cold cuts of meat, pates and smoked fish. It may also be found in food items containing one or more of these products, eg sandwiches.

In light of the listeria outbreak, local DUP MLA Stephen Moutray has tabled an Assembly question to ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, to clarify the current status of the contracts for the provision of sandwiches for sale on Health Service premises.

The Southern Trust said it is following PHA recommendations that some pre-prepared foods should not be served to hospital in-patients.

A spokesperson said this is a precautionary measure while the PHA, along with other agencies, continue to investigate the potential source of this outbreak.