Three hospital patients have died following an outbreak of listeria linked to pre-packed sandwiches made by a Staffordshire-based company.
A total of six seriously ill hospital patients in Manchester and Liverpool caught the infection.
Public Health England say sandwiches and salads linked to the cases have been withdrawn from the hospitals and the supplier, The Good Food Chain - which is based in Stone - has voluntarily ceased production while they investigate.
They say the business had been supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria. This business and North Country Quality Foods who they distribute through, have also voluntarily ceased production.
Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director at the National Infection Service at PHE said: “Our thoughts are with the families of those patients who have sadly died. We, along with the FSA, colleagues in local authorities and the NHS have worked quickly to determine the likely cause of this outbreak and taken action to reduce the risk to the public’s health.
“To date, there have been no associated cases identified outside healthcare organisations, and any risk to the public is low.”
Dr Colin Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer at the FSA said: “Our sympathies are with the families of those patients who have tragically passed away.
“We have taken action along with local authorities to minimise the risk based on the evidence so far. The FSA will continue to investigate how the outbreak occurred and if further steps are required to protect vulnerable groups.”