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Health and social care secretary orders review of hospital food safety

Decision follows confirmation that five people have now died in current listeria outbreak

Caroline White

Monday, 17 June 2019

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has ordered a “root and branch” review of the safety of hospital food following confirmation that the death toll from the current listeria outbreak has now risen to five.

Since the multi-agency investigation began into listeria cases linked to sandwiches and salads, Public Health England (PHE) has been analysing previously known cases of listeria from the past two months to see if they are linked to this outbreak.

Any risk to the public remains low, says PHE, but its Whole Genome Sequencing analysis has identified an additional three cases linked to this outbreak.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to nine. All of the cases of listeria infection were in hospital patients in England, although it’s not clear where the additional cases occurred.

One of the seriously ill six patients with the infection confirmed by PHE last week has since died. This brings the total number of deaths linked to this outbreak to five.

Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock said: "I have been incredibly concerned by this issue and strongly believe that we need a radical new approach to the food that is served in our NHS. Staff, patients and families deserve so much better - our NHS should be at the forefront of supporting people to make healthy choices.”

He added: “I have instructed the NHS to conduct a root and branch review of hospital food.”

The Department of Health and Social Care was unable to confirm to OnMedica who would be carrying out the review or when their report would likely be published.

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