Listeria outbreak: One of five killed after eating sandwich is identified

20 June 2019, 08:04 | Updated: 20 June 2019, 15:31

One of the victims of the listeria outbreak at UK hospitals is a businessman who ate a contaminated sandwich, according to a report.

Ian Hitchcock was admitted to Royal Hospital Derby on 15 May, eight days after being diagnosed with liver cancer treatment, and died on 8 June after being transferred to Nottingham City Hospital.

According to The Times, the 52-year-old was from Matlock in Derbyshire and ran a family haulage company with his older brother Alan - and he was the father of twin 19-year-old sons.

His brother told the newspaper: "When he went into hospital, I thought he would soon be back at work. I didn't think he would die because of the food."

In a statement given to Sky News, the family said they were "clearly very upset" and wanted to "grieve in privacy".

They also said an inquest would get started in Derby on Friday.

Mr Hitchcock is one of five people suspected to have died after eating pre-packed sandwiches and salads linked to The Good Food Chain, prompting Health Secretary Matt Hancock to order a "root and branch" review of NHS food.

The affected products have since been withdrawn from hospitals and Public Health England (PHE) said evidence indicated all the deaths had occurred before the items were removed from circulation on 25 May.

Two deaths have also been confirmed at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust - with one patient dying at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and another at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Three other trusts have diagnosed listeria cases linked to the outbreak, but there have not been any deaths.

There were two cases at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, one case at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, and one at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

The health secretary has warned there will be "severe consequences" if there is evidence of "wrongdoing" over the listeria outbreak, which has seen The Good Food Chain - a supplier to 43 NHS trusts across the UK - voluntarily cease production.

The business was supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which has since tested positive for the strain of listeria involved in the outbreak. That company has also stopped production.

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Listeria infection is rare and usually causes mild illness in healthy people.

However, it can have more serious consequences among those with pre-existing medical conditions, pregnant women and those with a weak immune system.

PHE said evidence suggested all those who died ate the products before the withdrawal took place on 25 May.