The sandwich producer that has become infamous for it’s part in a Listeria outbreak that killed at least five people in England has gone into liquidation.

The Good Food Chain had been told it could restart operations by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) this past week as it was no longer involved in the investigation. The company voluntarily ceased production on June 5 and withdrew products that had not yet expired. It employed 125 people. Forty staff members were let go at the start of June when production was suspended.

At least nine hospital patients developed Listeria infections in England between April 20 and June 2. People ate the affected chicken sandwiches in hospitals before the product withdrawal on May 25.

Two patients were at Manchester Royal Infirmary, and there was one each in Liverpool, Royal Derby, Worthing, William Harvey in Ashford, Wexham Park, Leicester Royal Infirmary, and St Richards in Chichester.

Tanya Marston, one of the patients recovering from Listeria monocytogenes infection, called for an urgent inquiry. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said there would be a review of hospital food and government would work with the Hospital Caterers Association.

Business impact
Martyn Corfield, owner and founder of the Good Food Chain, said the impact had been too great for the business to remain viable.

“I was absolutely devastated to hear that people had died after contracting listeriosis and have been thinking constantly about all those affected and their families over the last few weeks. I feel desperately sorry for our brilliant and hardworking staff who, through no fault of their own, now find themselves out of work. I would like to thank them for everything they have done for the Good Food Chain, and particularly for their loyalty and patience over the last few weeks,” he said.

The outbreak strain of Listeria was found in meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats. The firm and their distributor North Country Quality Foods, voluntarily stopped distribution on June 3 and withdrew all ready-to-eat items. North Country Cooked Meats and North Country Quality Foods remain closed.

Public Health England (PHE) has analyzed 29 samples from people with listeriosis within the time frame the incident occurred. Twenty are not linked to the outbreak and separate investigations are ongoing for those patients.

The agency looked at previously known cases of Listeria from the past two months to see if they are linked to the outbreak. The time between exposure to the organism and development of illness can be up to 70 days. Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness.

PHE and Health Protection Scotland have written to NHS Trusts and boards to ensure they are following appropriate food storage and handling protocols and to provide clinical guidance.

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