Sandwich manufacturer the Good Food Chain has been given permission to resume production after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced it was no longer part of an investigation into the source of a listeria outbreak that resulted in the deaths of five hospital patients.
The deaths were all linked to products supplied by the Good Food Chain, with the investigation now focused on North Country Cooked Meats and its supply chain.
North County Cooked Meats and its distributor North Country Quality Foods remain closed after voluntarily stopping distribution on 3 June.
While the Good Food Chain has been given permission to restart production, it would be subject to strict monitoring by the local authority and would have to reapply for accreditation to supply the NHS.
The company said: "We welcome the FSA's announcement that the Good Food Chain is no longer part of the ongoing investigation into the recent listeria outbreak
"The FSA has confirmed that we are not the source of the listeria strain in question, and that we follow ‘best practice for manufacturing, cleaning, and environmental standards'.
"While this means we can now resume production, we have not yet taken any decision about whether it is viable to do so. Production therefore remains suspended for the time being.
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with the families of those who have died following this terrible episode."
All Good Food Chain products linked to the outbreak were withdrawn in May and Public Health England has said all individuals affected consumed the products before this date.
Dr Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer of the FSA said: "This is a complex investigation, but we have worked to swiftly identify and remove from the food chain the products linked to these hospital cases.
"Our investigations are now focused on where the outbreak strain originated from and subject to strict verification and ongoing monitoring by Stafford Borough Council, the Good Food Chain company is now able to restart production."