Danish authorities have halted production at a speciality food store after one of its products was linked to three Listeria infections.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) stopped production of food at a specialty shop called “Tyrkeren Odder” in Holsteinsgade, Odder, which is a town in Jutland, Denmark.

Three people in the local community have contracted listeriosis this year.

Action was taken following an inspection where Listeria was found in the food and production environment. The visit was prompted by the three illnesses.

Listeria samples match those from patients
Inspections have been made by the local food authority unit, which is part of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.

Listeria was found in a variety of hummus samples from the store and in the production area. The strain is a match to the isolates from patients. Interviews by experts from the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) revealed a possible link with consumption of hummus made at the site.

The store remains open to sell foods in retail packaging as well as fruits and vegetables but will have to fulfill certain criteria decided by the authorities to resume food production.

In June this year, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration announced it would visit 500 specialty shops such as butchers and delicatessens in the next six months with a focus on Listeria control.

Every year, around 50 consumers are infected with Listeria and about a quarter of these people die, often because they are already ill.

Inspections were first about guiding companies and then checking if they have control over how they manage Listeria risk.

Listeria is particularly challenging because it thrives in cold and low-oxygen environments so has good conditions to survive in vacuum-packed salmon, rullepølse, which is a type of cold cut meat, and other food with a long shelf life. Also, once it has been introduced it can establish itself in the production environment or on equipment and is difficult to eradicate, despite thorough cleaning.

Symptoms may include sudden onset of fever, headache, backache, nausea, vomiting and neck stiffness. The time between becoming infected and developing symptoms varies from a few to 70 days with an average of three weeks. Infection is more serious for newborn babies, the elderly, immune suppressed people and pregnant women.

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