The Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland and the UK Health Security Agency have issued advice to vulnerable groups of consumers such as those with weakened immune systems about the risks of Listeria monocytogenes infection linked to ready to eat smoked fish.
Listeria is a bacterium that causes an illness called listeriosis. It is widespread in the environment and once a food product has been contaminated it can grow on food at standard refrigeration temperatures. It can be destroyed by thorough cooking.
It is advised that people who are aged 65 and over, pregnant or have weakened immune systems should ensure that their ready to eat smoked fish is thoroughly cooked before they eat it. ‘Ready to eat smoked fish’ refers to chilled smoked fish products that would not normally be cooked at home before being eaten.
Professor Saheer Gharbia, Interim Deputy Director Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety at UKHSA has issued the following statement:
“Most people won’t have any symptoms of the infection or will only experience mild symptoms such as abdominal pain or diarrhoea, which usually pass within a few days without the need for treatment.
However, some people are at higher risk of much more serious illness, including those over 65, people who are pregnant or newborn babies, and those with weakened immune systems including people undergoing immunosuppressive treatment, and people with chronic liver or kidney disease.
In light of this ongoing outbreak, we are advising pregnant and vulnerable people to only eat ready to eat smoked fish that has been thoroughly cooked to reduce the risk of listeriosis. If you have any concerns about your health please speak to your midwife, GP or hospital specialist team.”
Learn more about Listeriosis HERE.