Listeria positive: Sliced chicken withdrawn from schools in Caerphilly, Wales

Action has been taken to withdraw a batch of sliced cooked chicken supplied to canteens in schools in Caerphilly after potentially harmful levels of Listeria monocytogenes – the bacteria that causes listeria food poisoning – was found in the product.

listeria4No illnesses linked to the incident have been reported and the risk to the vast majority of healthy children and staff is very low.

The potentially contaminated chicken was served in 45 of 90 schools supplied, as quality checks identified no concerns prior to service. As a precaution, all chicken from this supplier has been removed from the menus.

Parents of pupils from the affected schools have been notified of the incident. At this stage it is unclear whether the whole batch of chicken was affected. The samples in which the bacteria were found were taken from schools where the catering staff noticed an unusual smell and withdrew the chicken from service.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Public Health Wales and environmental health officers at Caerphilly County Borough Council have been urgently investigating the source of the contamination. No cause has been identified at this stage but a food manufacturer from England which supplied the chicken and a distributor in Wales are being investigated. As a precaution, all cooked sliced chicken from the company in England is being tested for contamination.