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Food Safety Focus (113th Issue, December 2015) – Food Incident Highlight

Bringing Food into Hospital? Watch Out for Listeria!

Bringing chilled ready-to-eat foods into hospital for patients to eat may put them at risk. Last month, the Centre for Health Protection notified the Centre Food for Safety (CFS) of a case of listeriosis involving an inpatient who had consumed sushi with raw seafood purchased by family members from a takeaway shop.

Listeriosis is usually caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria which can be easily destroyed by cooking but can survive and multiply at refrigerator temperatures. Severe complications may occur, such as septicaemia, meningitis or even death in newborns, elderly and those with weaker immune systems; and miscarriages during pregnancy.

The CFS advises chronic disease patients, people with weaker immune systems, pregnant women, infants and the elderly to avoid eating high-risk foods, i.e. ready-to-eat foods that may have been stored in refrigerator for a long time allowing the growth of Listeria. These foods include soft cheese, cheese cakes, cold-cuts, sashimi, sushi with raw ingredients, salads, smoked seafood, etc.