Two people in Belgium have been infected with the same type of Listeria behind an outbreak in the Netherlands with European agencies investigating illnesses in other countries.

Belgian media cited a report from Sciensano, the Belgian Institute for Health, and agency officials confirmed to Food Safety News that the details were correct while directing us to the Agency for Health and Care (Zorg en gezondheid).

The two people that fell sick in Belgium last year were a 97-year-old woman and a woman of Dutch nationality who had a baby a week before going into hospital in Antwerp.

Belgian analysis
Sciensano compared a sample of the bacteria from the Netherlands with samples from the Belgian patients and found they matched.

Twenty Dutch patients were reported over two years with three associated deaths and one woman having a miscarriage.

RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) and NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) are investigating the outbreak linked to cold meat charcuterie from a company called Offerman, a subsidiary of Ter Beke.

NVWA officials said traceability inquiries found there could be more than 9,000 buyers of possibly contaminated meat products.

Earlier this month in Belgium, cooked roast beef of the brand Délifin was recalled from Aldi stories and supermarket Albert Heijn withdrew Wahid brand charcuterie which came from the Offerman factory in Aalsmeer due to potential Listeria.

EFSA and ECDC assessment
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have been tasked by DG SANTE of the European Commission to produce a rapid outbreak assessment by the end of November.

This is because there is a multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to the meat products made in the Netherlands.

It is as yet unclear how many other people and countries are affected but a RASFF alert lists Aruba, Belgium, Curaçao, Germany, Luxembourg, Sint Maarten, Spain, Suriname and the United Kingdom as receiving potentially contaminated products.

An EFSA spokeswoman said information on which countries had reported illnesses, how many and the dates of these were a question for ECDC and would be included in the published assessment.

An ECDC spokeswoman said it was still collecting information from the countries and those exchanges were confidential.

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