Tuberculosis has broken out at a major West Midlands food firm, prompting an investigation, it was revealed today.
Four workers at the 2 Sisters Food Group factory in Dial Lane, West Bromwich, have contracted the contagious disease.
Public Health England has been contacted about the outbreak and experts are investigating to see if other staff have been affected. They stressed there was no risk to the food processed at the site.
Screening sessions are now taking place at the site on current and former workers.
Letters are being sent out and a hotline offering advice has also been set up.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. It mainly affects the lungs but it can also impact on the bones and nervous system.
Dr Naveed Syed, a consultant for Public Health England, said experts were working closely with managers and Sandwell Council to arrange information sessions.
“Testing will be conducted as a precaution and we are working closely with the management of 2 Sisters Food Group Ltd to ensure that the best advice and support is provided for all staff members,” he said.
“Tuberculosis is a serious disease but the risk of catching TB infection is small.
“It generally requires prolonged and close contact with somebody who has TB, such as someone living in the same house, and it can be completely cured with a course of antibiotics.
There is absolutely no risk of TB being transferred in any other way, so these cases have no impact whatsoever on the quality of goods processed at the factory.”
The four people affected have all responded to treatment and are now well.
A statement from 2 Sisters Good Group Ltd said: “We take the health and well-being of our workforce very seriously and we are keen to assist Public Health England in any way we can to reassure employees and provide them with any information or support necessary.
“As a precautionary measure, we are working with Public Health England to coordinate some educational materials and screening sessions on site. As the experts at Public Health England have informed us, there is absolutely no impact on food quality or safety, so it’s very much business as usual at the site.”
The firm employs 1,500 at its sites in West Bromwich, Alpha Business Park, Smethwick, and Lincoln Street, Wolverhampton.
Anybody else wanting further advice about TB can call Sandwell TB Nurses on 0121 507 2858 or go online and visit the website www.hpa.org.uk