Public Health England (PHE) has announced that a sixth person has died after eating pre-packaged sandwiches and salads linked to a listeria outbreak in hospitals in Britain.

The patient, who has not been named, is thought to have eaten a Good Food Chain product while at a hospital in the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It is not known which hospital the patient acquired listeriosis but the trust runs Worthing Hospital, Southlands Hospital in Shoreham-by-Sea and St Richard's Hospital in Chichester.

PHE reported in June 2019 that nine people were infected. It has been confirmed that the sixth patient to die from the listeria outbreak was one of the previous nine cases.

The Good Food Chain was supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which reports confirm has tested positive for the outbreak strain of listeria. Sandwiches and salads linked to the outbreak have been withdrawn. North Country Cooked Meats has voluntarily ceased production and on June 27 2019, Good Food Chain announced it was going into liquidation.

The five previous deaths occurred at four different hospital trusts. Two were at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, one was at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool, one at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, and another one was at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Three other cases were reported which have not been fatal. These were at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

On 26 June 2019, the Food Standard Agency announced that, following extensive testing and verification by Stafford Borough Council, The Good Food Chain is no longer part of the ongoing investigation into the source of the outbreak. The investigation is now focusing on suppliers further up the food supply chain.

In June 2019, Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised a “full and thorough” investigation of the listeria outbreak in hospitals.

An investigation is ongoing.

Angela Bruno, food safety lawyer at Leigh Day said:

“We are saddened by the news of another fatality in the listeria outbreak.

“It is vitally important that resources are put into the ongoing investigation to find the source of this outbreak to prevent further outbreaks and fatalities.”

A Public Health England spokesman said:

“Our investigations continue and the public should be reassured that the risk continues to be low.”

Whilst Listeria infection is rare and usually only causes a mild illness it can have more serious consequences among those with pre-existing medical conditions, pregnant women and those with a weak immune system.