Over 300 sickened in Norway: Beware the herbs as chives on scrambled eggs IDed as source

We investigated an outbreak of gastroenteritis following a Christmas buffet served on 4–9 December 2012 to ~1300 hotel guests. More than 300 people were reported ill in initial interviews with hotel guests.

chive.scrambled eggsTo identify possible sources of infection we conducted a cohort investigation through which we identified 214 probable cases. Illness was associated with consumption of scrambled eggs (odds ratio 9·07, 95% confidence interval 5·20–15·84). Imported chives added fresh to the scrambled eggs were the suspected source of the outbreak but were unavailable for testing.

Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) infection was eventually confirmed in 40 hotel guests. This outbreak reinforces that ETEC should be considered in non-endemic countries when the clinical picture is consistent and common gastrointestinal pathogens are not found.

Following this outbreak, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority recommended that imported fresh herbs should be heat-treated before use in commercial kitchens.

 An outbreak of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) infection in Norway, 2012: a reminder to consider uncommon pathogens in outbreaks involving imported products

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 143 / Issue 03 / February 2015, pp 486-493

E. MacDonald, K.E. Møller, A.L. Wester, U.R. Dahle, N.O. Hermansen, P.A. Jenum, L. Thoresen and L. Vold