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Italy hit by new Listeria outbreak with one dead

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Italian authorities are investigating a Listeria outbreak that has sickened 22 people and killed one.

Mortadella sold by Veroni is being looked at as a potential source but an official link has not been confirmed by authorities.

In early November, a number of recalls were published for Veroni mortadella due to potential Listeria contamination.

A product recalled by Veroni in November

The Ministry of Health (Ministero della Salute) issued a warning covering a few batches of the Veroni Supergiant Mortadella packed in small portions due to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes.

Veroni said it immediately and voluntarily alerted the market, recalling all batches of Supergiant Mortadella with and without pistachios in portions that had expiry dates before Dec. 27, 2022.

In a statement to Food Safety News, Veroni said it had not yet been informed of any ongoing investigation and the issue doesn’t affect products sent to the United States.

“The cured meats imported in the U.S. by Veroni are manufactured in a dedicated facility based in the Emilia-Romagna region that serves only North America. Before being shipped, these products are subjected to high-pressure processing (HPP) treatment, leading to the inactivation of pathogenic microorganisms and enzymes in the food. In particular, the ready-to-be-sliced mortadella shipped in the U.S. is cooked at high temperatures and encased into artificial casings to prevent environmental contamination.

“In addition, all the products imported to the U.S. by Veroni are subjected to USDA inspection. Once delivered to Veroni’s NJ-based facility, the cured meats are sliced and packed following strict food safety and hygiene procedures. Daily inspections are conducted to minimize potential food safety risks and mitigate any problems. All Veroni’s facilities in Italy and the U.S. were inspected, further sanitized, and checked by government veterinarians: they are all working and safe.”

Unrelated to other Listeria outbreak

The latest outbreak is caused by a different type of Listeria than the one that has sickened at least 90 people and killed three since 2021.

Investigations previously revealed a connection between patients and the presence of Listeria in sausages made with poultry meat produced by Agricola Tre Valli, after sampling at the plant in Verona. Listeria was also detected during environmental sampling at the factory. Authorities have identified the same type of Listeria in some patients and recalled products.

AIA Wudy and Pavo brands have been recalled but they were distributed to 30 countries mostly across Europe including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

There are sporadic cases in other countries but the major burden is in Italy, where recalls and investigations have been undertaken, said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

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