Sources have yet to be found for a trio of listeria infections that left two in hospital and one dead in Tauranga last week, health officials confirmed.

A fourth case of the food-borne bacterial infection has been diagnosed in Wellington, but there is no evidence of a link to the Tauranga cases.

Nor have any of the cases been linked to cheese products pulled off the shelves last week due to potential listeria risk.

The cases revealed last week prompted a warning over food safety for the elderly, pregnant women, babies and people with compromised immunity.

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Listeria symptoms vary but can include fever, headaches, tiredness, aches and pains, diarrhoea, nausea or stomach cramps. Symptoms can occur anywhere between three and 70 days after eating contaminated food.

Toi Te Ora Public Health Medical Officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack said yesterday one of the two ill people in Tauranga had been discharged from hospital. The other was in a stable condition.

The three local cases were in people aged between 70 and 90 and the person who died was terminally ill. The extent to which the listeria contributed to their death is being investigated by Toi Te Ora.

The first case was diagnosed on July 12 and the other two on July 20.

"To date, there have been no further cases reported to Toi Te Ora Public Health since the three confirmed cases," Shoemack said yesterday.

Ministry for Primary Industries director of compliance Gary Orr said, however, a fourth case had been diagnosed in Wellington.

A spokesperson for Wellington Regional Hospital confirmed there was one patient admitted due to listerial infection. The patient was in a stable condition in a ward and there was no apparent link to the cases in Tauranga.

Orr said cases of listeria "occur from time to time, and there is no evidence of a link between this case and the products being recalled".

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"To date, a source has not been identified for any of the cases. MPI and Toi Te Ora Public Health continue to work together on trying to identify a source of the listeria."

One person is dead and two others were hospitalised following a listeria diagnosis. Photo / File
One person is dead and two others were hospitalised following a listeria diagnosis. Photo / File

On Friday, Geraldine business Talbot Forest Cheese recalled a range of products due to a potential risk of contamination with listeria.

"The listeria detection in the cheese products was a result of routine product testing by the company," Orr said.

"No connection between the recalled cheese products and the listeriosis cases has been established."

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that is naturally present in the environment.

Orr said until the source of the listeria had been confirmed and action taken to prevent a recurrence, production remained on hold.

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It would not resume until there was confidence there was no risk to consumers, he said.

The list of products has been updated since it was first released on Friday.

"As additional information came to hand as part of the product trace-back process, the list was updated.

"The companies recognised the potential risk and adopted a precautionary approach to recall the products."

The Talbot Forest Cheese products affected are being removed from shelves and should not be eaten. If you have any of the products listed below in your fridge you should return them to the retailer or throw them out.

Affected products:

Bouton D'Or Haloumi (180g)
Ornelle Halloumi (1kg)
Puhoi Herit Creamy Havarti (1.25kg)
Puhoi Windy Peak Gouda (1.2kg)
Puhoi Summit Trail Gruyere (1.25kg)
Puhoi Valley Cumin Gouda (150g)
Puhoi Aged Smoked Cheddar (125g)
Puhoi Valley Gruyere (150g)
Puhoi Valley Smokey Gouda (70g)
Puhoi Valley Creamy Blue (70g)
Puhoi Valley Peppered Havarti (70g)

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Batch and date marking:

For Ornelle brand and Bouton D'Or brand Haloumi: Best before dates between and including 26/05/2020 and 08/10/2020.

For other products listed in this notice: Best before dates between and including 22/11/2020 and 06/04/2021.

Source: MPI and New Zealand Food Safety

Food safety

People who are in an at-risk group should avoid these foods:

• Uncooked, smoked or ready-to-eat fish or seafood, including oysters, prawns, sashimi or sushi.
• Paté, hummus and tahini-based dips and spreads.
• Cold pre-cooked chicken.
• Processed meats including ham and all other chilled pre-cooked meat products including chicken, salami and other fermented or dried sausages.
• Pre-prepared, pre-packaged or stored salads (including fruit salads) and coleslaw
raw (unpasteurised) milk and any food that contains unpasteurised milk.
• Soft-serve ice creams.
• Soft, semi-soft or surface-ripened soft cheese (for example, brie, camembert, feta, ricotta, roquefort).

If you or anyone in your household is in an at-risk group, it is especially important to take a few simple food safety precautions:
• Avoid eating the high-risk foods listed above.
• Follow good food hygiene practices, such as washing and drying hands before preparing food and after handling or preparing raw foods.
• Eat freshly cooked or freshly prepared foods.
• Wash all raw fruit and vegetables very well before eating.
• Cook foods thoroughly.
• Refrigerate leftovers immediately and do not keep for more than 2 days. Reheat to steaming hot before eating.

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Source: Ministry of Health

Listeria symptoms may include:

• Fever

• Headache

• Tiredness

• Aches and pains

• Diarrhoea

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• Nausea

• Stomach cramps

- After eating contaminated food, on average, symptoms appear after about three weeks but can occur from three to 70 days.

Source: healthnavigator.org.nz