Caterer seeks assurances

The catering company responsible for meals at Wairau Hospital in Blenheim has sought quality assurances from its supplier of pre-packed cold meat following an outbreak of listeria at a North Island hospital.

Healthcare catering company Medirest, which is part of the Compass Group, said it was comfortable with the robust food safety process shown by its supplier Goodman Fielder.

Medirest human resources general manager Marion Etches said the company had double-checked that no products from the meat wholesaler at the centre of the listeria outbreak in Hawke's Bay had found a way into their supply chain.

This information had been passed on to clients, in this case the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, she said.

The food bug had killed one woman and contributed to the death of another after being found in food supplied to the Hawke's Bay hospital.

Two other people had been infected by the bacterium but had since recovered. It was not clear where they became infected, but tests had shown listeria was present in pre-packaged meat supplied to the hospital.

Mrs Etches said Medirest sought reconfirmation from Goodman Fielder on the back of the outbreak.

"As a company, the first thing we did was track through our supply chain to make sure we hadn't purchased any products from this company [in Hawke's Bay] and we hadn't," she said. "Then we were in contact with our supplier to reconfirm their food safety management process, particularly in relation to listeria, and we are very comfortable they have a robust process in place."

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board corporate services manager Nick Lanigan said the board was satisfied with the assurances that the suppliers had given on the effectiveness of their food safety plan and in particularly the listeria risk management processes.

The Ministry of Primary Industry (formerly the New Zealand Food Safety Authority) had confirmed that the product implicated in the North Island listeria incident had been recalled and that none of the product was sent to the South Island, Mr Lanigan said.

The Marlborough Express