Caterer linked to fatal listeria outbreak ‘devastated’
A MEALS on wheels service has been shut down as investigations take place into the death of a woman from listeria poisoning.
A Dandenong South woman, aged in her 80s, died from eating foods contaminated by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, according to Victoria's Health Department.
I Cook Foods, which had been supplying meals to a number of aged care facilities and hospitals in Victoria, has been closed down until further notice.
The company's Director Ian Cook and his family are said to be "devastated" and are hoping to resolve the "terrible tragedy".
"We are horrified this has happened and we're doing everything possible to assist the health authorities," Mr Cook said in a statement issue on behalf of the business.
"We would like to express our sympathy to the family of the woman who has died and will continue to co-operate with and assist the relevant authorities in every way possible.
"This has devastated my family, and we, as much as everyone else, want to get to the bottom of how this happened.
"This is a terrible tragedy, and our hearts go out to the family of the woman who has died."
Victoria's acting chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton told reporters there are potentially thousands of people who could be at risk.
"More than a third of people infected can die," Dr Sutton said.
"A thorough clean has been completed. The facility will not reopen until further testing and improvements are made," the department said in a statement.
"Facilities supplied by the company, including private hospitals, aged care centres and Meals on Wheels services have been contacted to make alternative arrangements."
The state government warns foods at risk of listeria contamination include smoked fish or raw seafood, pre-packaged fruits and vegetable salads, deli meats which are eaten without further cooking and soft cheeses such as brie, camembert and feta.
I Cook Foods is a family owned and run Australian business that has been operating in the Lilydale area since 1985.
They are the largest private provider of delivered meals in Victoria, servicing aged care facilities, hospitals and cafes.