Hospitals and settings such as nursing or residential care homes are legally responsible for the safety of food they provide to the people in their care.
Between 1999 and 2011, there were eight outbreaks of foodborne listeriosis in UK hospitals, which resulted in a total of eight deaths. Two fatalities have been reported from hospitals in Northern Ireland and Wales during 2012.
These outbreaks were all linked to the consumption of chilled ready-to-eat foods (perishable foods that can be consumed without further heating or processing), in particular various types of sandwiches. To reduce the risk of listeriosis, these ready-to-eat foods need to be kept chilled and eaten within their ‘use by’ date.
Who is at risk?
Although rare, listeriosis can be serious for the most vulnerable groups, where around a third of cases result in death. The groups of patients/residents known to be at increased risk of listeriosis include:
People of advanced age with a weakened immune system
People with weakened immunity due to illness, disease, medication or treatment