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Fatai listeria infection outbreak linked to Scottish fish processor 


Products sold by the unnamed implicated company have all been within the maximum permitted level set in legislation.

The limit of 100 Colony Forming Units per gram (CFU/g) applies to foods placed on the market, during the product’s shelf-life.

Businesses that produce foods that can support the growth of Listeria are expected to show, to the satisfaction of authorities, that the product will not exceed 100 CFU/g throughout the shelf-life. Or, they must prove absence in 25 grams before the food has left their control.

“Food law is written on the basis of reducing risk as far as is reasonably practicable. It does not equate to an absence of risk, but an acceptance that residual risk will remain. Listeria is ubiquitous in the environment, and there is no stage in the production of cold smoked salmon that can eradicate the organism. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to reduce the risk to zero,” said Food Standards Scotland.

Fatai listeria infection outbreak linked to Scottish fish processor 
Fatai listeria infection outbreak linked to Scottish fish processor 

Controls are focused on good hygiene practices to minimize the risks of contamination and ensuring shelf life does not allow the pathogen to reach levels capable of causing illness. However, epidemiological data has shown that doses as low as 8 CFU/g can cause illness in vulnerable consumers susceptible to foodborne disease.

Given the product is compliant with microbiological regulatory limits yet still poses a significant risk to vulnerable consumers, authorities said it is critical that interventions ensure effective enforcement of food safety controls as well as public health messaging which enables people to understand the risks.

Advice to people over the age of 65, those who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems is that they should thoroughly cook ready-to-eat smoked fish before eating it. The warning covers chilled smoked fish products that would not normally be cooked at home before being eaten.

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