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Listeria in the sausage, uncertainty when consumed
After the extensive recall of sausage and meat products due to suspected Listeria, there is growing uncertainty among consumers. The manufacturer is resisting the closure of its production, the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety justifies its action and consumers are increasingly unsettled by reports of deaths that have already occurred.
According to the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety, the federal health authorities have reported between 430 and 662 cases of listeriosis to the Robert Koch Institute every year since 2012 in accordance with the Infection Protection Act (IfSG). Molecular biological analysis methods were said to be increasingly used to identify infections of a certain type of pathogen in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse. The demonstration of the same fine type pattern in products of the large butcher Sieber resulted in the recall campaign now initiated and a closure of the production.
Four deaths from listeriosis
According to the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety, the special type of pathogen has been associated with 70 to 80 cases of illness, primarily in Baden-Württemberg, but also in Bavaria, since 2012. "Eight of the sick people have died, and four of them have listeriosis as the main cause of death," reports the State Office. When investigating the outbreak, no particular food could be identified as the cause of the infections and the origin of the pathogen remained unclear.
Pork products identified as triggers
Since human listeriosis cases with the above-mentioned pattern continued to occur in 2015 and 2016, "from this point in time, human listeria isolates of the pathogen pattern in question were more precisely molecularly typed using the newly introduced high-resolution investigation method NGS and as a specific group (cluster type CT 1248), ”reports the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety. In cooperation with all health authorities, the epidemiological investigations (extensive surveys of patients or, if applicable, of their relatives) have been intensified again. From the epidemiological surveys of cases of illness in the affected federal states, there had been increasing evidence that pork products were probably the cause of the infections.
Intensified investigations since February 2016
Corresponding pork products have therefore been increasingly examined in Bavaria by the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety in Bavaria since the beginning of February 2016 and in March a routine official sample of the product “Original Bavarian Juniper Wammerl” from the Sieber Gesellschaft für Wurst- und Schinkenspezialitäten mbH Listerien was found. The product was assessed as "harmful" and a public warning followed and the affected batch was recalled. Furthermore, the company was subsequently officially sampled and also initiated extensive self-checks. However, the further official sampling did not result in a load above the limit of "10 CFU / g (= colony-forming units per gram), so that the criteria for classification as unsafe food were never given," reports the Bavarian State Health Office.
Cause of the outbreak
The subsequent molecular biological analyzes of the Listeria from the “Orig. Bayr. Wacholderwammerl ”showed, however, that the pathogens corresponded to the fine type pattern of the previous outbreak. This is the first time that food has been assigned to the human outbreak, emphasizes the State Office for Health and Food Safety. In addition, the epidemiological findings on the product (e.g. sales area in southern Germany, sales via certain retail chains) would have indicated a connection with the infections. The RKI assumes a high probability that the “Wammerl” are related to the listeriosis outbreak in the period from 2012 to the present.
Potential hazard to consumer health
This month, therefore, a comprehensive inspection of the entire company followed, although there were only minor defects. Nevertheless, numerous other official samples were taken both in the company and in retail. "In five other cases, but with a different product range than before, low levels of L. monocytogenes were found," said the Bavarian State Health Office. The authorities conclude that there is overall sufficient evidence that "products from the company concerned may pose a risk to consumer health."
Destroy affected goods
Therefore, the Bavarian State Ministry of Consumer Protection advised against consuming ham and sausage products from Sieber. The company was prohibited by the responsible district office in Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen from placing goods on the market and a recall of goods on the market was ordered. Sieber Gesellschaft für Wurst- und Schinkenspezialitäten mbH asks consumers who have purchased affected company products to destroy them. The company does not explain whether a refund of the purchase price is possible. (fp)