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Public health advisory about possible listeria contamination at Waikato Hospital

We want visitors to Waikato Hospital to be aware that if they ate a salad sandwich or salad bar product from our Waikato Hospital campus outlets from the morning of Thursday last week (7 April) to end of Tuesday this week (12 April) there is a possibility of exposure to listeria.

We don’t want people to be unduly alarmed. We cannot confirm that the actual spinach used was contaminated, and even if infected many people will show no symptoms.

You may have already read or will hear about baby spinach product made in Cambridge which was distributed nationally before being recalled on Monday after testing positive to listeria. Waikato Hospital kitchen (no other Waikato DHB facility is involved) did use some of the salad products produced by this company, although indirectly through another supplier.

At this stage only the baby spinach has tested positive at the source supplier but as a precaution more leafy green salad products from that supplier are being tested. The Ministry of Primary Industries is working directly with the supplier on this.

As soon as we were notified, Waikato Hospital kitchen staff withdrew all leafy green salad and salad sandwich items, and these were disposed of. We have sourced an alternative supply of baby spinach and leafy greens, and since Tuesday the items on sale and provided to patients at Waikato Hospital are using this alternative supplier’s product.

If you think you did eat leafy green salad or salad sandwich items at Waikato Hospital from 7 April to 12 April and become unwell over the next two months or so with symptoms of diarrhoea, often associated with mild fever, aches and pains, headaches and vomiting, then please check with your own health professional. Tell them that you did eat potentially listeria-contaminated leafy greens during the relevant period. This is particularly important for women who are pregnant and people who are immune compromised.

Symptoms can appear anything from three days to 70 days after consumption.

None of the possibly listeria-contaminated food was given to patients most at risk of listeria i.e. patients on our antenatal wards, or severely immune-compromised (neutropenic) patients.

More information on listeria and safe food for pregnant women and people with low immunity on the Ministry of Health website and the HealthEd website.

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