Denmark’s food safety watchdog made “serious mistakes” in its handling of a listeria outbreak linked to the death of 12 people, the country’s government has said.

Deli meat products manufactured by processor Jørn A. Rullepølser have been identified as the source of the outbreak, which has made 24 people ill, according to the latest data from Danish health officials.

Denmark’s Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries yesterday (17 August) gave its verdict on a report from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) and criticised the agency.

“Where there is evidence of a direct link between food and death, enforcement authorities should immediately undertake a thorough examination of the particular business. It has not been fast enough, which is reprehensible,” Food Minister Dan Jørgensen said.

A spokesperson for the ministry said the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration discovered a link between the manufacturer and the outbreak strain of listeria in mid-July but not close the factory for three weeks.

There was also a delay in informing senior executives within the adminstration, the ministry spokesperson added.

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By GlobalData

Jørgensen said the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration had “tightened their internal procedures”. According to the ministry spokesperson, the person in charge of the alert system within the administration has been replaced.

Those who died had underlying medical conditions, so consumption of the products cannot said to be the direct cause of death, Danish health officials have said.

The manufacturer had supplied supermarkets in Denmark, as well as nursing homes and hospitals.