‘Serious mistakes’ in listeria outbreak

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration should have been quicker to act, an official report concludes. One employee is demoted for an outbreak that contributed to the loss of 12 lives.

'Serious mistakes' in listeria outbreak
Food and Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen. Photo: Betina Garcia/Scanpix
There were “serious mistakes” in the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration’s (Fødevarestyrelsen) handling of the listeria outbreak that led to 12 deaths, according to the Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. 
An official report on the outbreak delivered by Fødevarestyrelsen to Food and Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen concluded that there should have been a quicker and more thorough investigation of the food company Jørn A. Rullepølser A/S.
“When there is evidence of a direct connection between a food product and deaths, the control authorities should immediately carry out a thorough investigation of the particular company. That did not happen quickly enough, which is criticizable. I’m therefore satisfied that Fødevarestyrelsen has carried out a series of consequences and tightened up their internal procedures,” Jørgensen said in a press release. 
In connection with the report, Fødevarestyrelsen removed its head of emergency management, Kim Sigsgaard, from his position and transferred him to a lower-ranking position. 
The food authority also vowed to sharpen its controls for the detection of listeria.
Jørgensen said he was satisfied with Fødevarestyrelsen’s conclusions.
“Denmark has a very high and acknowledged level of food security as well as an effective monitoring system, but when we experience such a serious outbreak we need to take a look at doing things even better,” he said. 
At least 20 people were infected with listeria according to Statens Serum Institut (SSI). The 12 who died were weak and ill beforehand, so SSI could not say with certainty if the listeria led directly to their deaths. 
SSI informed Fødevarestyrelsen of a possible outbreak on June 26th, but it wasn’t until August 12th that authorities went public with the information and announced that the outbreak had been traced to Jørn A. Rullepølser A/S.

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