Little has changed at plant linked to 7 deaths says Norwegian broadcaster NRK

Editorial Staff

Same variant of the listeria bacteria has appeared again at plant linked to numerous fatalities in Sweden according to documents seen by NRK.

The strain of listeria behind a series of fatalities in Sweden has been detected at Lerøy Midt according to documents from The Norwegian Food Safety Authority seen by Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

In 2022, salmon from Lerøy was identified as the source of a listeria outbreak in Sweden, which resulted in seven fatalities. Investigations traced the outbreak back to Lerøy Midt’s processing plant, where more than 700 instances of listeria were detected within a 15-month span.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has followed the plant on Jøsnøya closely since the Swedes sounded the alarm. Now, a report from the health body claims that little has changed at the factory and the same variant of the listeria bacteria has appeared again, according to NRK.

“You have mapped and found that there are four different Listeria ST types in your production environment and that ST 37 has been found in both the butchery and the filleting department. This is the same type of Listeria that the Swedish authorities have sequenced and which is the source of the outbreak in Sweden,” states the report.

“They probably haven’t managed to get rid of the listeria bacteria in question,” infection control coordinator at the Swedish Food Safety Authority Mats Lindblad told NRK.

According to Ivar Eiken, head of department at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority in Trondheim, the latest test results indicate a persistent presence of listeria in the production environment. These results suggest a lack of effective day-to-day cleansing and decontamination practices.

Lerøy Midt has been instructed to improve communication regarding potential listeria risks with businesses downstream, particularly those involved in the production of ready-to-eat and long-shelf-life seafood products. This measure is intended to mitigate the risk of listeria proliferation and subsequent health hazards.

Despite the ongoing concerns, Anne-Hilde Midttveit, head of quality and social responsibility at Lerøy, stated that while the ST 37 strain is commonly found in various environments, it has not been definitively established that their facility was the origin of the Swedish outbreak.

“It is not surprising that this strain has also been detected elsewhere and may re-enter the factory. We have always said that our plant on Jøsnøya could be one possible source. But it has not been determined where the outbreak in Smögen originated,” she told NRK.

“Food safety has the highest priority in Lerøy. We have therefore already implemented what is in the decision from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority at our operations on Jøsnøya,” says Midttveit.


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