No further Listeria bacteria found at meat-packers Oskari Lihatööstus

The latest Listeria allegations surround a meat packing company whose products were being used by a Selver supplier.
The latest Listeria allegations surround a meat packing company whose products were being used by a Selver supplier. Source: ERR

No new Listeria bacteria traces have been found at Oskari Lihatööstus meat-packing company, the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) says.

"An official of the VTA carried out an inspection at Oskari Lihatööstus on Nov.11, and during the inspection also took samples from the company's work environment and products, for the identification of Listeria monocytogenes," Kairi Ramjälg, head of the food department at the VTA, told BNS.

As reported on ERR news, a supplier to supermarket Selver, Kulinaaria OÜ, terminated an agreement with Oskari after alleged Listeria bacteria finds. However, the VTA inspection starting Nov. 11 found no Listeria monocytogenes, according to BNS, though the VTA did make recommendations on preventive measures. The Listeria traces connected with Oskari were found in a product itself, which was blamed on employee oversight by the company.

"The results of the samples met requirements, meaning no Listeria monocytogenes were detected. In addition to the activities implemented by the company itself, the VTA made injunctions regarding the adjustment of a sanitation plan and sample-taking plans, and the specification of documentation concerning heat treatment," Ramjälg continued.

Ramjälg explained that after the company found out that Listeria monocytogenes was found within meat products from the company, Oskari carried out an internal audit to determine the reason why the product was contaminated. The company identified that, due to an employee's oversight, a deviation occurred in the heat treatment regime at the product's manufacturing meaning the product did not go through the necessary heat treatment.

After the incident in question, the Oskari says it implemented correctional activities including employee training and separate training for employees within the key thermal department, and implemented additional maintenance of work surfaces.

"The results of the [internal] samples [taken both from facilities and products] met requirements, meaning that no Listeria monocytogenes were detected. It is important that safe food reaches the consumer. The results of the samples taken during the supervision as well as those of the samples taken by the company have been satisfactory," Ramjälg said.

Last Friday, retail chain Rimi recalled all its fresh salads after finding Listeria bacteria in one sample taken from work surfaces in its own internal inspection. The retailer then immediately carried out an addition disinfection and notified both the VTA as well as consumers via media, and recalled all products that may have been contaminated as a precautionary measure.

Ramjälg said that the repeat surface sample taken by the company after cleaning the work surface was negative.

"The operator took samples also from raw materials and finished products and sent them to the laboratory - the results of the analysis were negative and no Listeria bacteria was found anywhere," she added.

At the same time, Ramjälg said that the task of the VTA is to carry out inspections regarding food manufacturers. This is necessary to determine whether the producers are fulfilling their obligations.

"The food handler is responsible for the compliance of the food. If necessary, additional communication between officials of the VTA and companies will be maintained to ensure compliance with food hygiene requirements," she said.

The largest Listeria case, with infections linked to the deaths of two people in Estonia and several more Europe-wide, has fallen on fish-packing plant M.V.Wool, whose facilities and products have tested positive for Listeria dozens of times even after the company says it carried out sterilization operations. M.V.Wool has pointed the finger at Finnish raw materials suppliers in its quest to explain the repeat outbreaks, and has obtained partial legal relief following a VTA precept to cease operations until completely clear of Listeria.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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