The FSA said it is now investigating further up the supply chain

The Food Standards Agency has ended its investigation into sandwich producer The Good Food Chain.

Production at the firm was halted on 5 June when the strain of listeria which caused the outbreak was traced to its sandwiches.

Yesterday’s announcement allows the firm to resume making food, but the Staffordshire-based company said it has not yet decided “whether it is viable to do so”.

An investigation into its supplier North Country Cooked Meats is ongoing and it remains closed.

“Following extensive testing and verification by Stafford Borough Council, The Good Food Chain is no longer part of the ongoing investigation into the source of the outbreak,” the FSA said. “With the investigation now focusing on suppliers further up the food supply chain, The Good Food Chain can restart production.” 

The FSA did not disclose any further detail into The Good Food Chain’s involvement in the case. 

“This is a complex investigation, but we have worked to swiftly identify and remove from the food chain the products linked to these hospital cases,” added FSA chief operating officer Colin Sullivan.

“Our investigations are now focused on where the outbreak strain originated from and subject to strict verification and ongoing monitoring by Stafford Borough Council.

“The company will be carefully monitored to ensure public health continues to be protected. Our thoughts remain with the families of those who have passed away.”

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The Good Food Chain will have to reapply for accreditation before it can begin directly supplying the NHS again. It will also have to implement a series of food safety measures and undergo monitoring from Stafford Borough Council for three months.

“We welcome the Food Standards Agency’s announcement that The Good Food Chain is no longer part of the ongoing investigation into the recent listeria outbreak,” said a spokesman for the sandwich producer.

“The FSA has confirmed we are not the source of the listeria strain in question, and that we follow ‘best practice for manufacturing, cleaning, and environmental standards’.

“While this means we can now resume production, we have not yet taken any decision about whether it is viable to do so. Production therefore remains suspended for the time being.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with the families of those who have died following this terrible episode.”