Danish fish producer unhappy with food authorities

Accusations that Listeria outbreak stems from his premises has company boss angry

In recent months, four people have been infected with the deadly Listeria virus after eating herring, which according to the food control authority Fødevarestyrelsen was produced by Hjerting Laks in Esbjerg.

One of the victims died, but Fødevarestyrelsen has still not yet  demanded that the company’s products be removed from the shelves despite its certainty that Hjerting Laks is responsible.

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Christoph Kjærgaard, the head of Hjerting Laks, is not happy that his company has been named as the source of the bacterium.

“We simply cannot understand why Fødevarestyrelsen would report something when it cannot be sure where the bacteria came from,” he told DR Nyheder.

A public responsibility
Annette Perge from Fødevarestyrelsen said the authority has a responsibility to report issues of public health.

“We publish the name of a manufacturer if there is any risk to consumers,” said Perge. She added that she expects more cases to stem from salmon from Hjerting Laks.

Perge maintains that Statens Serum Institut has confirmed that the  bacterium found in the four patients was also found at Hjerting Laks’s factories.

However, Kjærgaard conceded that the bacterium could have come from a subcontractor that supplies fish to his company.

A unique bacterium
Perge acknowledged there was no way to determine if the  bacterium initially came in from the outside.

“But we have found the exact same bacterium over a period of two years,” said Perge, who emphasised that the specific bacterium has not been found elsewhere in Europe.

“Therefore we are absolutely sure that the bacterium comes from Hjerting Laks.”