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Listeria Health Alert

Auckland Regional Public Health Service
Cornwall Complex, Floor 2, Building 15
Greenlane Clinical Centre, Auckland
Private Bag 92 605, Symonds Street,
Auckland 1150, New Zealand


Media Release
Monday, 25 February 2008


Health Alert

Listeria update – test results show listeria in ready-to-eat corned silverside product

Results from testing on batches of ready-to-eat product show ‘Listeria Monocyotogenes’ in Leornard’s line of packaged cold corned silverside distributed to trade outlets in the North Island between 9 and 24 February.

This is a different product line to that originally identified as contaminated and is in addition to the earlier notification of listeria contaminated cold roast beef product but is also served in meals such as sandwiches and salads.

Following today’s findings Auckland Regional Public Heath Service (ARPHS) has requested that the producers Leonard’s Superior Smallgoods Ltd cease distributing all bulk and sliced corned silverside, roast beef and ham until their safety can be assured. Leonard’s has agreed to take action immediately and comply with this request.

Since finding the contamination last Friday all ready to eat sliced meats at the factory have been held and tested before being released to trade customers. One further outlet in addition to those supplied with contaminated sliced roast beef affected by today’s findings has been notified and has signage on display.

“Once the further presence of listeria was confirmed, all sliced and bulk corned silverside, roast beef and ham were immediately withdrawn and the Food Safety Authority advised”, said Dr Greg Simmons, medical officer of health, Auckland Regional Public Health Services.

Dr Greg Simmons said the risk of a person developing a listeria infection after consumption of a contaminated product was “very small”.

However, Dr Simmons believes the public should be made aware of the finding and the possible risk. The very long time it takes for infection to develop (up to 70 days) makes it important that the public be made aware of the possible health risk.

Listeria is a common bacterium which is found in soil water, plants and in human and animal droppings. Most people are exposed to it regularly with usually no effect on healthy adults and children.

Dr Simmons said listeria was a bacterium which generally only caused illness in pregnant women, the very young, the elderly and people with lowered immunity.

Symptoms can include a fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and aches and pains in joints and muscles and can lead to meningitis and blood poisoning.

“In pregnant women, mild flu-like illness may be experienced, however we are concerned as infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth,” said Dr Simmons.

”All pregnant women are advised not to eat chilled, pre-cooked meat.”

“If you have eaten cold, sliced roast beef or corned silverside from a café between the beginning of February and 24 February this year and develop ‘flu like symptoms’ or become concerned about your health in the next few weeks, especially if you are pregnant, we suggest you contact your doctor highlighting the possibility of listeria.”

FOOD SAFETY
You can keep food safe by:
• Keeping cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods separate from raw and unprocessed foods
• Washing your hands, cooking tools and chopping boards before preparing a different food
• Using cooked, prepared, and canned food that has been stored in the fridge within two days
• Being sure to eat food before the use-by date
• Cleaning the fridge regularly and checking the temperature control

ENDS

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