3,000 Copenhagen kids get listeria-infested food

As many as 3,000 school children in 40 schools throughout Copenhagen were served listeria-infected food, city officials have warned.

3,000 Copenhagen kids get listeria-infested food
Officials said they were taking the situation seriously but didn't think that the children were are risk of becoming ill. Photo: Colourbox
In a letter to parents, the City of Copenhagen said that listeria was found in tzatziki served to school kids as part of a public-run lunch programme. 
“We are writing to you because your child has eaten EAT [the name of the school food programme, ed.] on Tuesday, November 11th and it has now been found that there was listeria in the tzatziki,” the letter reads, according to broadcaster DR. 
The EAT programme delivers lunch to 40 different schools and the infected tzatziki was one of two lunch options offered on November 11th. According to a city official, around 3,000 of the up to 5,000 children who get their meals from the programme are through to have chosen the infected dish. 
“We are clearly taking this very seriously, and are currently following all of the recommendations from Fødevarestyrelsen [the Danish Food and Veterinary Administration, ed.] in order to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Lina Maria Johnsson, the head of the city’s health department, told DR. 
It is uncertain if the listeria stems from the cucumber, garlic or yoghurt used in the tzatziki, or from unhygienic conditions at EAT’s kitchens.
The Food and Veterinary Administration has taken samples from the food and in the meantime has ordered EAT to give its facilities a thorough cleaning. 
An administration spokesman tried to assuage parents’ fears. 
“If you are weak and sick, there can be a risk. But schoolchildren aren’t,” Bjørn Wirlander told DR.
Denmark has seen numerous listeria outbreaks this year. The most serious of which, an outbreak that was traced to the deli meat rullepølse, has killed 17. In another incident, listeria in a soup served at two public hospitals killed three

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New listeria discovery in Danish supermarkets

As a year that has been plagued by food scandals comes to an end, a new batch of listeria-infected deli meat has been detected and recalled from supermarkets.

New listeria discovery in Danish supermarkets
Sales of rullepølse have fallen by up to 30 percent due to the listeria outbreak from earlier this year. Photo: Jørgen Kirk/Scanpix
As was the case with a listeria outbreak that has thus far killed 17 people, a new outbreak of the bacteria has been found in the popular spiced deli meat rullepølse.
Nearly 60 kilos of the infected meat was produced by the Aarhus-based company Defco and delivered to Bilka and Føtex supermarkets nationwide. The contaminated batch of meat has an expiration date between December 24-29 and has been recalled by the company. 
Defco CEO Knud E. Czaja said he was surprised by the listeria discovery. 
“We send between 100 and 200 tests into the lab every month to be checked and in one of the tests here at Christmas time, there was a listeria suspicion. Therefore, we are recalling the product,” Czaja told Ritzau. 
“I have no idea how it happened. It could have come through the air or through a person. It is after all found everywhere and this isn’t something we have experienced before,” he added. 
Czaja said that the outbreak that began in August at the food company Jørn A. Rullepølser has caused Defco’s sales of rullepølse to drop by 30 percent. Jørn A. Rullepølser has since been shut down by the food authorities. 
A spokesperson for the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestrylsen) said that the Defco sample contained 180 listeria bacteria per gram, which it characterised as a “moderate” violation of the 100 bacteria per gram limit. 
Anyone who has eaten the infected meat should seek medical attention if they experience flu-like symptoms, the administration spokesperson said.