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Listeriosis, the foodborne illness caused by listeria, is relatively rare but listeria causes more deaths from food poisoning in the UK than other foodborne bugs. Vulnerable groups of the population are at increased risk. The Agency aims to reduce the number of cases of listeriosis in the UK by the year 2015 through the Listeria Risk Management Programme.

Between 2000 and 2009, the annual number of laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis more than doubled from 114 to 234 cases in the UK. In 2010, there was a drop in laboratory-confirmed cases (to 174), although this remains above levels observed in the 1990s.

Listeriosis has a significant public health and economic impact because of its high hospitalisation and mortality rate. Most people infected with listeria are hospitalised and approximately a third die. The disease costs the UK economy an estimated £245 million a year.

About the Listeria Risk Management Programme

The five-year Listeria Risk Management Programme comprises three main workstreams, each informed by research and surveillance:

To achieve the greatest impact, activities are being targeted at specific high-risk food industry sectors and particular vulnerable groups of the population and the places where they are cared for.

To deliver this work the Agency will be working in partnership with government departments, health protection agencies, non-governmental organisations, the NHS, local authorities and the food industry.

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