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Volume 129: debated on Wednesday 9 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether any evidence is available to his Department regarding a possible link between recent cases of meningitis and imported Greek yoghurt carrying the meningitis bacterium; and if he will make a statement;(2) what tests have been conducted on imported Greek sheep's yoghurt to establish whether it contains meningitis-carrying bacteria; and if he will make a statement.

There is no evidence of a connection between meningococcal meningitis and the consumption of any particular foodstuff. Recent cases of meningitis have been mainly meningococcal meningitis, which is caused by a different organism from that which causes listeria meningitis. A recent case of listeria meningitis was associated with a cheese made in this country.All imported food is subject to routine sampling by port health authorities. We have no evidence to associate imported Greek sheep's milk yoghurt with illness caused by the listeria organism, which is in any case unlikely to occur in an acidic product such as yoghurt.