The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning over a disease-causing bacterium.

Along with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the FSA is reinforcing their advice to consumers in relation to the risks of Listeria monocytogenes infection linked to ready to eat smoked fish.

Anyone over the age of 65, pregnant of with a weakened immune system should ensure that ready to eat smoked fish is thoroughly cooked before eating.

The new warning is due to an ongoing outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes which can cause a Listeria infection.

The bacteria can survive and even grow under refrigeration and can cause Listeriosis which can last up to several weeks depending on the severity.

Symptoms include fever, vomiting and headaches, with some cases even resulting in convulsions.

However, certain individuals are particularly at risk of severe illness such as meningitis and life-threatening sepsis.

These include those over the age of 65, those with certain underlying conditions such as cancer, liver and kidney failure or who are taking medications which can weaken the immune system.

Listeriosis in pregnancy can cause miscarriages and severe sepsis or meningitis in new-born babies.

The investigation has identified 14 linked cases of listeriosis since 2020, with eight of these since January 2022.

Cases have been identified in England and Scotland. The majority of these individuals reported eating ready to eat smoked fish. One case has been a pregnant woman.

Dr Caroline Handford, Acting Head of Incidents at the Food Standards Agency, said: “While the risks to the general public of becoming seriously ill due to Listeria are very low, we need people who are vulnerable – specifically those over 65, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems – to be aware of the ongoing risks of consuming ready to eat smoked fish.

“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.

“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.”