Eight Listeria infections have been recorded in France by authorities linked to eating a brand of pork tongue in jelly.

The people infected with the same type of Listeria monocytogenes were identified by the National Reference Center for Listeria.

A spokeswoman for Santé Publique France told Food Safety News that all people needed hospital treatment but the agency does not have information on their current conditions.

“The people affected by listeriosis are three women and five men, aged 70 to 95 years, living in four regions of France. People were diagnosed between mid-September and early-November 2019. Due to the long incubation period of listeriosis, it cannot be ruled out that new cases will occur after the recall,” she said.

Product recall
An investigation by Santé Publique France and the Directorate-General for Food (DGAL) suggests a link between consumption of pork tongue in jelly products of the brand Tradival, part of the Sicarev Group, and some sick people.

Based on these investigations, the withdrawal from sale and recall of all lots and dates of pork tongue in jelly made by the company has been ordered. Production of this product has also been halted until further notice.

The products are sold in supermarkets, hypermarkets and by butchers throughout France. They can be identified by the approval number FR 45-147-004-CE on the packaging.

Consumers who have pork tongue in jelly are advised to contact their butcher or supermarket to find out where it came from. If it is from the implicated company they should not eat it and return it to the place of purchase.

Listeriosis is a mandatory reportable disease in France. In parallel with this notification of patients to health authorities, strains isolated from people are sent to the National Reference Center for Listeria at the Institut Pasteur, which provides microbiological surveillance of strains by genomic sequencing.

This work identified the eight cases of listeriosis were related to the same strain. Additional epidemiological investigations by Santé Publique France such as food consumption surveys of patients and traceability enquiries by the Directorate-General for Food directed investigations towards consumption of pork tongue as a probable source of contamination.

A total of 300 to 400 Listeria infections are declared every year in France with the majority in people judged to be most at risk such as pregnant women and their newborns, those over 65 years old and immunocompromised people.

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes. It can lead to sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems as well as miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions may occur. The incubation period is usually one to two weeks but can vary between a few and up to 90 days.

  • This article was updated on November 22 to include responses from Santé Publique France.

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