Dairy firm boss faces jail after deadly Listeria outbreak

Dairy firm boss faces jail after deadly Listeria outbreak

The head of a dairy company behind a Listeria outbreak in Austria faces more than a year in prison.

The boss of Käserei Gloggnitz was sentenced to 13 months in jail this week. The 39-year-old faced several charges but denied the allegations and the verdict was reported not to be final, according to media reports.

A Listeria outbreak from 2020 to 2022 had 10 cases and caused at least three deaths.

Käserei Gloggnitz faced financial issues in 2022 which led to insolvency proceedings being opened and in 2023 the closure of the plant was ordered.

Additional allegations will be heard in mid-March at the Regional Court of Wiener Neustadt when several other witnesses will also be questioned.

Incident background
In a January 2023 audit, DG Sante examined a file of the dairy plant linked to the outbreak. Käserei Gloggnitz had a poor compliance history and an inspection in 2020 identified several major deficiencies. Results of an inspection one year later were equally serious.

However, those findings did not lead to an increased inspection frequency or enforcement until an epidemiological link between infections and the company was established in autumn 2022 and authorities ordered production to be stopped.

Patients were six women and three men between 29 and 82 years old plus a newborn baby. Illnesses occurred in Vienna, said the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES).

Käserei Gloggnitz recalled all kajmak, drinking yogurt, and cream cheese products in September 2022 because of potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Kajmak is a type of cheese.

Officials found Listeria that matched the outbreak strain in three environmental samples taken from the company in Lower Austria. The outbreak strain was also detected in the food it produced. 

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