What Causes Listeriosis?

STS Food Pathways

Listeriosis is the foodborne illness caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, also known as L.monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is typically spread by contaminated food. It is an unusual bacterium in that it thrives and grows at low temperatures, including refrigeration. Listeria monocytogenes is most commonly associated with chilled, ready-to-eat foods such as cooked sliced meats, smoked fish, soft cheese, pate and cooked shellfish. Research shows that recent outbreaks in the UK can mainly be traced to pre-packed sandwiches.

Although the number of reported cases is low, compared to other food-borne illnesses such as salmonella, it has a high hospitalisation and mortality rate.

At least 90% of people who get listeriosis are vulnerable groups. Most healthy people don’t get sick when they are exposed to Listeria monocytogenes. Other than diarrhoea or minor gastrointestinal problems, however among vulnerable groups it’s a different story.

People with weakened immune systems from diseases such as cancer, pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborn babies, the very young and the elderly are the groups who are most at risk. If a vulnerable person becomes infected they will most probably require hospitalisation, and approximately a third will die.

We worked with the FSA to develop guidance to help healthcare and social care organisations reduce the risk of listeriosis for the vulnerable people in their care. This guidance is intended to complement good practice in the food industry and as the experts behind the listeria monocytogenes research and guidelines; we are uniquely positioned as the go to source for all your prevention needs.

The STS Food Safety Standards: Protecting the Most Vulnerable is the only UKAS accredited food supplier assessment which specifically audits for listeriosis and the listeria monocytogenes bacterium.

Our experts will help you identify and manage the risks and put measures in place to protect your business, customers and reputation.

Call our team today on 0845 862 8030 to find out what you need to do to prevent the spread of listeria monocytogenes.

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