VULNERABLE consumers have been issued advice on eating certain kinds of smoked fish amid an ongoing Listeria monocytogenes outbreak.

People at risk of Listeria infection – which includes those aged over 65, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems – are being asked to ensure that ready-to-eat smoked fish is thoroughly cooked before consumption.

How many cases have been found?

So far 14 cases of listeriosis have been identified in England and Scotland since 2020 – with eight of those being found since the start of this year.

The majority of those affected reported having eaten ready-to-eat smoked fish.

What is Listeriosis?

Listeriosis, a form of food poisoning, can cause mild gastroenteritis which typically subsides within a few days – however those more vulnerable to the illness face the risk of meningitis and sepsis.

Developing listeriosis in pregnancy can cause miscarriages as well as sepsis and meningitis in newborns.

What is the risk level like?

Ron McNaughton, the head of food crime and incidents at Food Safety Scotland, assured people that the risk is “very low” to the general public but those at higher risk need to be aware of the situation.

“If anyone from these groups is eating ready to eat smoked fish, we are reminding them of the advice to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked before they eat it including when served as part of a dish,” he said.

“People can also further reduce the risk by keeping chilled ready to eat smoked fish cold (5⁰C or below), always using products by their use-by date, following the storage instructions on the label, and cooking it until it is piping hot right through.”

Meanwhile, Professor Saheer Gharbia, the interim deputy director of gastrointestinal infections and food safety at the UK Health Security Agency, said that most people won’t suffer from symptoms of the infection and if they do, they would be mild and pass without the need for treatment.

“In light of this ongoing outbreak, we are advising pregnant and vulnerable people to only eat ready to eat smoked fish that has been thoroughly cooked to reduce the risk of listeriosis. If you have any concerns about your health please speak to your midwife, GP or hospital specialist team,” he advised.