What is listeria after Muller recalls six Cadbury’s desserts over health fears?

What is listeria as Cadbury recalls desserts over risk? (Getty Images)
Cadbury has recalled certain ready-to-eat desserts over fears of listeria. (Getty Images)

Cadbury has recalled six desserts over fears they could be contaminated with listeria.

Symptoms of a listeria infection are normally mild and flu-like but can be more serious, and potentially life-threatening, in more vulnerable individuals including those over the age of 65, pregnant women and their unborn babies, babies less than one month old and people with weakened immune systems.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said in a statement: “Muller has taken the precautionary step of recalling some batches of various Cadbury-branded dessert products because of the possible presence of listeria monocytogenes.”

The affected products are Daim Chocolate Dessert 75g (use by May 18), Crunchie Chocolate Dessert 75g (use by May 17), Flake Chocolate Dessert 75g (use by May 17), Dairy Milk Buttons Chocolate Dessert 75g (use by May 18), Dairy Milk Chunks Chocolate Dessert 75g (use by May 18) and the Cadbury Heroes Chocolate Dessert (6x75g) (use by May 18).

The FSA listed signs as including high temperature, muscle ache or pain, chills, feeling or being sick and diarrhoea.

People with affected batches, which may be contaminated, should not eat them and return them to the store they purchased the items from for a full refund, with or without a receipt.

“Muller produces these products under licence from Mondelez International and has stressed that this does not impact any other products it produces in the UK or other markets," Muller said in a statement.

“Consumers should return the product to the store from where it was bought. For further information, contact Muller UK and Ireland’s consumer care team on team_cccare@muller.co.uk or 07354 835 893.

“This is an isolated incident, and an extensive investigation is being carried out.”

This isn't the first listeria scare this year, with cases of the infection also found in soft cheeses, raw fish and some dairy products.

Read more: 11 foods you didn't know could cause food poisoning

Ready-to-eat foods should be kept chilled to prevent a listeria risk. (Getty Images)
Ready-to-eat foods should be kept chilled to prevent a listeria risk. (Getty Images)

What is listeria?

Listeriosis is the full name for a rare infection caused by bacteria called listeria. It is usually caught from eating food containing listeria bacteria.

While it is possible to contract the infection from lots of different types of food, it is mainly a problem with chilled, ready-to-eat foods.

The NHS lists some such foods including cooked sliced meats and cured meats, smoked fish and cooked shellfish, blue veined and mould-ripened soft cheeses, like camembert and brie, pâté, pre-prepared sandwiches and salads, some pre-prepared fruit including melon slices, unpasteurised milk and dairy products made from unpasteurised milk.

It is important to remember, however, that these foods do not always cause listeriosis.

Although it's less common, you can also catch listeriosis from someone else who has it, if for example you eat food they've touched if they've not washed their hands.

Watch: Halsey suffered 'terrible food poisoning' at Reading and Leeds festival

Symptoms of listeria

The NHS says that in many people the infection has no symptoms, but other mild symptoms can include a high temperature (of 38C or above), aches and pains, chills, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea.

While listeriosis is not usually serious for most people, for certain groups, including pregnant women, those over the age of 65, newborn babies and those with a weakened immune system, there is a higher risk of suffering more serious problems.

If you get listeriosis while you're pregnant, the NHS warns there is a risk it could cause miscarriage or stillbirth.

In babies, older people and people with a weakened immune system, listeriosis can sometimes lead to serious and life-threatening problems such as sepsis or meningitis.

If you fall into any of the more at risk groups, the NHS recommends making an urgent GP appointment or calling 111 for further advice.

If you're pregnant you can also contact your midwife.

Read more: What is the NHS soups and shakes diet?

Pregnant women are at greater risk of complications from listeria. (Getty Images)
Pregnant women are at greater risk of complications from listeria. (Getty Images)

Treatment for listeriosis

For most people who contract the infection it will be mild and usually improves in a few days.

The NHS says it is usually possible to look after yourself at home by resting and drinking plenty of fluids.

If you're at a higher risk of getting seriously ill (for example, you're pregnant or have a weakened immune system), you may need antibiotics.

Read more: Health benefits of sneezing and why you should never hold one in

Preventing listeriosis

The NHS has put together some tips to try and decrease the risk of catching listeriosis including washing your hands regularly with soap and water, washing fruit and vegetables before eating them, keeping ready-to-eat foods cold, keeping raw and ready-to-eat foods separate.

It also recommends using foods by their use-by date and following storage instructions on food label.

Eating ready-to-eat foods within four hours of taking them out of the fridge and making sure all hot food is cooked or reheated until it is steaming hot all the way through are other suggestions to follow.

You should also never eat, cook or freeze food after its use-by date even if it looks and smells normal.

Additional reporting PA.