Sainsbury’s has recently issued a national recall of several of their Deli Filler ready-to-eat food products due to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. This is the primary cause of a rare but serious foodborne infection: Listeriosis.

Although infection is rare, there are some groups of individuals that are at an increased risk of more serious complications, including anyone who is:

  • over 60 years of age
  • pregnant (both mother and unborn baby may be at risk)
  • newborn babies ( less than one month old)
  • experiencing a weakened immune system due to an existing medical condition (for example, cancer, lymphoma and sickle-cell anaemia)
  • undertaking an immunosuppressive treatment (for example chemotherapy or treatment for HIV/AIDS).

It’s important to take special precautions in pregnancy. Even a mild form of the illness in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in a newborn baby.

Listeriosis (also referred to as Listeria) is most commonly found in unpasteurised milk, as well as dairy products in which it is an ingredient. Food can become contaminated during and after preparation. Therefore, as a general rule, pregnant women are advised not to eat any food that they cannot first wash or cook thoroughly.

Make sure you know the important facts about a healthy diet during pregnancy, including which foods you should avoid. You can also take precautions to limit the risk of food poisoning during pregnancy and reduce any unnecessary risks to you and your baby.

In the majority of cases, Listeriosis is mild and causes symptoms including a high temperature (fever), vomiting and diarrhoea. These symptoms usually pass within three days without the need for treatment.

However, if one or more of the above categories apply to you and you develop the symptoms of Listeriosis, you should seek immediate medical attention. As a first measure, contact your GP or the relevant out of hours’ service. You should be given a same-day appointment.

For further information and advice, please visit the Food Standards Agency website for a published a list of affected products. The NHS Choices website has further advice and guidance, including how to prevent Listeriosis.