The owners of a factory in the Netherlands linked to a Listeria outbreak have decided not to reopen part of it.

The Offerman plant in Aalsmeer was shut in October this past year while Dutch authorities investigated the outbreak.

Ter Beke considered renovating the factory but will close the large hall while a smaller one which employs around 40 people will remain open. Some production lines have been moved to different plants while others stayed in Aalsmeer. Company officials said it had no further information to share when contacted by Food Safety News.

Outbreak details
Twenty-one people were infected with Listeria monocytogenes in the Netherlands and Belgium. One person fell sick in October 2017, eight in 2018 and 12 in 2019.

Three people died. All patients were hospitalized and one woman had a miscarriage. Two Dutch patients were pregnant women in their 30s. The others ranged in age from 64 to 94 years old and 10 were men.

Sliced ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products from boiled and raw sausages from different suppliers produced between 2017 and 2019 by Offerman were contaminated with Listeria that matched the outbreak strain.

An assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) could not identify the exact point of contamination but found it likely happened at Offerman, which was the only common manufacturing point of contaminated products.

Union action
The news was revealed by CNV, the second largest union in the Netherlands. It represents a number of workers at the Offerman Aalsmeer plant as well as other Offerman and Ter Beke sites.

Soraya Faez, from CNV, said 50 people have lost their jobs at the plant in Aalsmeer but some were offered roles at another Ter Beke site in Ridderkerk.

“The other half could stay in Aalsmeer or were offered a new position at another plant. During negotiations we agreed that the employer could offer workers positions in Ridderkerk but acceptance of that position was to be voluntary. This way a worker could choose not to accept the job in Ridderkerk and keep their severance package,” she told Food Safety News.

Faez added the union knew in October that the plant would not reopen and in the first week of January employees were told whether they could stay in Aalsmeer.

“We now have to wait and see how long the plant in Aalsmeer stays open. We did make sure that the severance package we agreed on would also apply to the workers who work in Aalsmeer at this moment. We did that because there were rumors of the second building also closing.”

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