32 cases with 6 deaths in Europe, 6 cases with 1 death in South Africa.

Frozen corn is the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes which has affected five EU Member States (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) since 2015. This is the conclusion of a rapid outbreak assessment published today by EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). As of 8 March 2018, 32 cases including six deaths had been reported.

Whole genome sequencing was used to define the multi-country outbreak of L. monocytogenes serogroup IVb, multi-locus sequence type 6 and to identify the implicated food source.

Investigations point towards frozen corn packed in Poland and processed and produced in Hungary. The report recommends further investigations to identify the exact point of contamination in the food chain.

Food business operators in Poland, Finland, Sweden and Estonia have withdrawn and recalled the implicated products. These measures are likely to reduce the risk of human infections in these countries.

However, new cases may be identified due to the long incubation period of listeriosis (up to 70 days), the long shelf-life of frozen corn products and the potential consumption of frozen corn bought before the recall was implemented.

To reduce the risk of L. monocytogenes infection from frozen corn, consumers should adequately heat frozen vegetables that are not ready-to-eat products. This applies especially to consumers at the highest risk of contracting listeriosis – such as the elderly, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.

Coordination at EU level is crucial when there are multi-country foodborne outbreaks. One aspect of this coordination is the production of a rapid outbreak assessment (ROA) by EFSA and ECDC in close cooperation with affected countries.

The ROA gives an overview of the situation in terms of public health and identifies the cause of the infections. It also includes trace-back and trace-forward investigations to identify the origin of the outbreak and where contaminated products have been distributed. These help to identify measures that will prevent further spread of the outbreak.

In South African L. monocytogenes news, Listeriosis has hit Ladysmith, with a dairy farm and two shops testing positive for L. monocytogenes in the Ladysmith area. Uthukela District Health Services received their test results on Tuesday (March 13) from the dairy farms and shops that were tested for L. monocytogenes. The results came back positive for a dairy farm in Winterton, as well as two shops selling milk, one in Colenso and the other in Bergville.

The shops have been closed until they test negative for L. monocytogenes, and the dairy farm has also been closed so that they can clean out their systems and get rid of the contaminated milk in the correct manner. The systems on the dairy farm also have to be disinfected and after that, further tests will be done until they come back negative for L. monocytogenes. Only then will the farm be opened.

Six people have already been affected by the disease in the Ladysmith area, with 1 confirmed death.  These illnesses are not related to the Listeria outbreak linked to polony that has sickened nearly 1,000 and killed 183.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $650 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as deli meat, cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.