Production at a German meat company linked to a Listeria outbreak has temporarily been shut down by authorities.

Officials in the Waldeck-Frankenberg district of Germany closed the production facility of Wilke Waldecker Fleisch-und Wurstwaren in Twistetal, Berndorf. The company has recalled all of its products except canned food as investigations in Germany indicate a link to a foodborne outbreak caused by Listeria in chilled sausages.

German media reported two people have died and about 40 other infections are under investigation. An Robert Koch Institute (RKI) spokeswoman told Food Safety News that the agency does not comment on acute incidents since the local public authorities are in charge.

Past incidents
Listeria was detected during sampling of the manufacturer’s products in pizza salami and a type of sausage. Local authorities had previously ordered cleaning and disinfection several times and the production facilities had been temporarily closed before.

After results from re-sampling at the end of September became available, authorities ordered the closure of the plant and recall of all products, some of which have been sent to at least seven other countries.

All dates of products marked “DE EV 203 EG” have been recalled. Items such as sausages were sold loose at retailers so have no label and in community catering institutions such as hospital kitchens and canteens.

A total of 405 Listeria infections have been reported this year until October compared to 482 in the same time period last year, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute. The annual number of listeriosis cases in Germany recorded by RKI has increased from 396 in 2009 to 771 in 2017.

Austrian recall
The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) issued a warning on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection (BMASGK) for meat and sausage products from the German manufacturer.

German authorities informed AGES via the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) portal that products had been delivered to two wholesale companies in Austria. There are no reported cases of listeriosis in Austria linked to the outbreak in Germany.

Based on a RASFF notification, products were also distributed to Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland,  Netherlands and Sweden.

Elderly and immunocomprimised people, expectant mothers and newborn babies have an increased risk of contracting listeriosis.

Symptoms of infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. The time between becoming infected and developing symptoms varies from a few to 70 days with an average of three weeks.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)