EFSA Technical Report: Multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to cold-smoked fish

A prolonged multi-country outbreak of 22 Listeriosis cases caused by Listeria monocytogenes has been identified in five EU countries: Denmark (9 cases), Estonia (6), Finland (2), France (1) and Sweden (4). Five patients have died after exhibiting the symptoms of the disease. The first case had symptom onset in July 2014 in Estonia, and the most recent case occurred in Denmark in February 2019. Eight patients confirmed the consumption of cold-smoked fish products.

Traceability information pointed to an Estonian processing company as the single common manufacturer of the affected fish products. Environmental investigations and food testing at the Estonian processing plant showed the presence of L. monocytogenes that matched the outbreak strain in two samples on the processing line and in four batches of the final product.The presence of L. monocytogenes matching the outbreak strain over several years in the fish products suggests the ongoing presence of microorganism at the Estonian company’s premises. Control measures were implemented in Estonia, Denmark, France and Italy following the RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) notifications, but until the source of infection has been identified and controlled, new invasive listeriosis cases associated with this event may still occur.