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Food Safety Focus (46th Issue, May 2010) – Food Incident Highlight

Listeria Monocytogenes in Cocktail Sausages

Last month, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) received notification from the European Commission that certain batches of Jean Caby pre-packaged cocktail sausages may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes due to incorrect pasteurisation process. Some of the affected products had been exported to Hong Kong . The CFS promptly alerted the trade to stop selling the products and issued a food alert to the public on 21 April.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium widely dispersed in the environment which can cause foodborne disease. It can be easily destroyed by cooking but can survive and multiply at refrigeration temperatures.

Although most healthy individuals rarely develop symptoms when infected, Listeria monocytogenes could pose severe effects on pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and people with weak immunity, and could cause miscarriage and meningitis. Ready-to-eat foods with long shelf-lives under refrigeration such as soft cheeses, pate, processed cold meat and poultry are high risk foods and should be avoided by these susceptible groups.