An outbreak of listeria has caused 12 deaths in Denmark, the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) said on Tuesday.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen), has traced the outbreak to the popular cold cut rullepølse – a rolled, seasoned pork product – produced by the Hedehusene-based food company Jørn A. Rullepølser A/S.
The company has been closed with immediate effect and all of its products have been recalled. Fødevarestyrelsen reports that Jørn A. Rullepølser A/S delivered food to other companies and the food authority is currently working on tracking down the possibly affected products.
SSI reports that the first case of a possible listeria infection was discovered in September 2013. SSI informed Fødevarestyrelsen of a possible outbreak on June 26th.
According to SSI, there have been 20 individuals affected by the outbreak: nine women and 11 men between the ages of 43-89 spread geographically across all of Denmark. Twelve individuals have died from listeria over the past several months.
Listeria is a bacteria found in soil, water and in the intestines of some animals. The bacteria can also live in food processing plants and unlike other germs it can survive refrigeration.
Symptoms of listeria include weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
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According to Fødevarestyrelsen, an average of 50-60 individuals have gotten ill from listeria each year since 2006. The highest number was in 2009, when 100 were sickened.
In 2010, seven people in Austria died from eating listeria-contaminated cheese. That outbreak resulted in a criminal case against employees of the food company.