We do not want to be alarmist, but only provide correct information on the new food outbreak which is affecting Europe. We are talking about Listeria, a bacteria whose contamination has been affecting some European countries for several years.In Hungary, frozen corn and possibly other frozen vegetables produced by a local company are the likely source of an outbreak which, since 2015, has led to 47 cases of infection, including 9 deaths, in 5 European countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The alarm has now been raised in Italy too, where some batches of frozen vegetables and soups have been withdrawn as a precautionary measure; however, as the Italian Ministry of Health stresses, the situation is under control and essentially not worrying. The batches of vegetables at risk present in our country are “very few” and are no longer on the market. As stated by the Italian Minister of Health, Ms. Giulia Grillo, there is currently no infection outbreak in Italy.

But what is listeria?

It is resistant, it flourishes in warm environments but it is also so frost-resistant that it can survive in frozen foods. Its name is Listeria monocytogenes and it causes the listeriosis infection, which is potentially fatal.

Listeria is generally due to the ingestion of contaminated food and therefore classified among the food-transmitted diseases (food-borne diseases). Although evidence of the disease has been described since the end of 1800 in several animal species, as the National Institute of Health recalls, the first human case of listeriosis dates back to 1929 and the first perinatal case to 1936. In Western countries, the disease is becoming a more and more serious public health problem. Indeed, even if relatively rare, it may lead to a severe clinical picture and high mortality rates, above all for vulnerable people, such as new-born babies, elderly people, pregnant women and immunocompromised adults.

Furthermore, epidemics have frequently occurred in recent years, mainly after the distribution of contaminated food through the large food chains. The bacteria can contaminate any level of the food production and consumption chain. It can grow and reproduce at varying temperatures from 0 to 45 C, it tends to persist in the environment and therefore to be present in frozen, preserved and processed foods.

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Foods mainly associated to the listeriosis infection include: raw vegetables, meat and fish, unpasteurised milk and milk products, such as soft cheeses and butter, and processed or prepared foods (ready for use), including hot-dogs, delicatessen cold meats, prepacked salads, sandwiches, smoked fish.

Listeriosis may appear in different clinical forms, from the acute febrile gastroenteritis, which generally occurs in food-borne diseases within a few hours after ingestion (and it is self-limiting in healthy subjects), to the invasive or systemic one. Pregnant women usually experience a flu-like illness, with fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and pain. However, infections acquired during pregnancy can have serious consequences on the foetus (foetal death, miscarriage, premature childbirth or congenital listeriosis). In immunocompromised adults and elderly people, listeriosis may cause meningitis, encephalitis, serious septicaemia. These clinical manifestations may be treated with antibiotics, but the prognosis in the most serious cases is often unfavourable.

How to defend ourselves at home

The best way to fight listeriosis is through effective prevention, i.e. through the application of the general caution and hygiene standards laid down for all the other food-borne diseases: washing hands and cutlery, thoroughly cooking foods and cleaning raw foods.

What companies can do. waveco® contribution

The greatest responsibility for prevention lies primarily with food production companies and all the other companies working in catering and food processing and distribution. In every single step it is essential to use machines and procedures aimed at eliminating any risks to the health of consumers.

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At NCG, Next Cooking Generation, we have been working to this end for years: a constant research to produce innovative machines for the food industry, so that the users can take the most out of cutting-edge functional and power-saving machines that ensure complete safety for both the health of consumers and the environment.

waveco® is the latest creation; it guarantees safe, genuine foods at all stages of the food supply chain: from production and industrial processing to commercial and collective catering services.

But how can waveco® help companies and defend the consumer? Everything is connected with its innovative induced maturation© process: thanks to a mechanical-wave patented system, waveco® instantly reduces the bacterial load of foods, such as meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, thus eliminating the contamination risks and making the food safe for the health of consumers (you can read here some tests carried out by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Teramo, which has validated the results obtained with waveco®)

Thanks to the induced maturation© process, which does not cook the food, we can guarantee food safety, triple its shelf life and preserve all its nutritional and organoleptic properties. We obtain a food which is ready to be processed industrially or distributed and directly served to the final consumer.

Choosing waveco® also means investing in a highly-profitable solution for your business, designed to bring savings in terms of resources, working hours and energy costs. Induced maturation® allows you to prepare food quickly by optimising scheduling and increasing productivity, thus reducing waste, respecting the environment and causing the food costs to drop considerably.

Please contact us for more information or innovative solutions for your company.