We all recall that there’s recently been a listeria outbreak in the National Health Service. This then being the trigger for the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to argue that NHS catering should be brought back in house. For the outbreak was traced to an external supplier of sandwiches. As we noted, this sounds more like an excuse than a reaction:
Listeria’s an excellent excuse to bring National Health Service catering in house, it’s just not a good reason to do so. But that seems to be the way Matt Hancock is taking matters.
Why can’t sandwiches be made in an NHS kitchen, after all?
Except the facts have changed:
A sandwich company has gone into liquidation just days after it was cleared of being the source of an outbreak of listeria which killed five hospital patients.
The Good Food Chain announced it was to cease trading with the loss of 125 jobs because the impact of the contamination crisis had severely affected business.
The company, based in Stone, Staffordshire, had ceased production at the start of June shortly after the outbreak was discovered.
Earlier this week, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) confirmed the Good Food Chain was not the source of the outbreak.
The strain of listeria was identified in meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which supplied produce to Good Food Chain’s sandwiches.
The interesting thing is to watch what happens next. Does the argument change to all meats must now be cooked in house? The NHS must make ham? Or are we going to remain with the idea that the NHS must be making the sandwiches, the thing which didn’t cause the listeria outbreak?
The answer will tell us two things. Firstly, whether politicians do indeed do what we do, what Keynes said all should, change minds when facts change. The other being, of course, whether this use of listeria to argue for in house NHS catering was a reason or an excuse.