Listeria kills three in two years, source traced to Dutch cold meat factory

Three people have died and one woman has had a miscarriage after eating cold meat contaminated with listeria, the public health institute RIVM said last Friday.

top view of round slices of smoked pork loin ham in transparent plastic tray packaging isolated on white background

Dutch News reports all are thought to have become ill after eating meat products from the Offerman company over the past two years, the agency said. In total, at least 20 people have become ill after eating Offerman cold cuts. The company issued a health warning last Friday and Jumbo, which stocks 135 different products from Offerman, ordered an immediate recall. Aldi too has recalled its Offerman products, which were also widely sold to company canteens.

The source of the infection was traced by the RIVM and product safety board NVWA after an analysis of the different types of listeria infection this week. ‘It has only been recently possible to use this technique and without it, we would not have been able to identify the source,’ the RIVM said.

The factory where the bacteria originates is located in Aalsmeer and has been closed pending a thorough clean-up, the AD reported last Friday afternoon. According to broadcaster NOS the NVWA had ordered Offerman to take extra hygiene measures because there were suspicions that something was going wrong. ‘But this would appear not to have done the job,’ a NVWA spokesman told the broadcaster.

Listeria is particularly dangerous to the elderly and pregnant women and can cause miscarriages. Every year about 80 cases of listeria are reported to the RIVM.

Everyone’s got a camera: Netherlands café edition

Janene Pieters of the NL Times reports a video of a mouse munching on a crepe in an Amsterdam cafe, resulted in the business being ordered closed by the Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA. The video was posted on Twitter on Wednesday. NVWA inspectors went to inspect the cafe and found more vermin. Which is why the cafe was ordered closed, RTL Nieuws reports.

“The business can only be reopened if the entrepreneur has thoroughly cleaned everything up and has taken measures to prevent vermin”, the NVWA said. All food supplies currently in the store must also be discarded. The situation in the cafe was unsafe and a public health hazard, an NVWA spokesperson said to the broadcaster.

The NVWA is pleased that consumers report when they see vermin in shops or catering establishments. “With or without a video we take these kinds of complaints seriously. Mice are a direct threat to food safety.”

Whole genone sequencing fingers ham as source of Salmonella outbreak in Netherlands

In January 2017, an increase in reported Salmonella enterica serotype Bovismorbificans cases in the Netherlands was observed since October 2016. We implemented a case–control study to identify the source, including all cases after December 2016.

Adjusted odds ratios were calculated using logistic regression analysis. We traced back the distribution chain of suspected food items and sampled them for microbiological analysis. Human and food isolates were sequenced using whole genome sequencing (WGS).

From October 2016 to March 2017, 54 S. Bovismorbificans cases were identified. Sequencing indicated that all were infected with identical strains. Twenty-four cases and 37 controls participated in the study. Cases were more likely to have consumed ham products than controls (aOR = 13; 95% CI: 2.0–77) and to have shopped at a supermarket chain (aOR = 7; 95% CI: 1.3–38).

Trace-back investigations led to a Belgian meat processor: one retail ham sample originating from this processor tested positive for S. Bovismorbificans and matched the outbreak strain by WGS. All ham products related to the same batch were removed from the market to prevent further cases. This investigation illustrates the importance of laboratory surveillance for all Salmonella serotypes and the usefulness of WGS in an outbreak investigation.

Outbreak of Salmonella Bovismorbificans associated with the consumption of uncooked ham products, the Netherlands, 2016 to 2017

Eurosurveillance; Volume 23; Issue 1; 4 January 2018

Brandwagt Diederik, van den Wijngaard Cees, Tulen Anna Dolores, Mulder Annemieke Christine, Hofhuis Agnetha, Jacobs Rianne, Heck Max, Verbruggen Anjo, van den Kerkhof Hans, Slegers-Fitz-James Ife, Mughini-Gras Lapo, Franz Eelco

Take this course and you may not end up in

We don’t normally do course announcements, but I’ve got a soft spot for the Dutch and this colleague was persistent.

dutch-waynes-worldCourse: Management of Microbiological Hazards in Foods

Advanced course, Management of Microbiological Hazards in Foods

Organised by: The Graduate School VLAG, in co-operation with The European Chair in Food Safety Microbiology

Date: Mon 6 March 2017 until Fri 10 March 2017

Venue: Wageningen, The Netherlands
The seventeenth edition of the international advanced course on Management of Microbiological Hazards in Foods addresses both success stories in food safety and problems remaining to be dealt with as, indeed, foodborne illnesses are a continuing problem worldwide food industry, including primary production, manufacturers, retailers and food service. The roles of different stakeholders, how food safety assurance can be achieved, which problems are to be prevented and in particular what knowledge is essential in managing the production of safe foods will be prominent topics in this course.

Anyone working or studying in/for a role in academia, industry or government associated to food safety management who wishes to update their knowledge and interact with key experts willing to share their experience. Participants may be graduates in (Food) Microbiology, Food Technology, Food Science, Food Chemistry, Veterinary Sciences or Medicine, as well as in related areas of science or with equivalent expertise.

Netherlands: Course: Management of microbiological hazards in foods

VLAG Graduate School

3 sick with botulism in Spain and Germany linked to dried salted fish

Two cases of botulism in the province of Alicante and another in Germany linked to a brand of dried salted fish produced in The Netherlands has led to it being withdrawn from sale in various parts of Spain.

dried-roach-fish-salted-hanged-log-wall-drying-50980748Salted roach (rutilus rutilus, known in Spanish and branded as such in supermarkets asrutilo), stocked in refrigeration cabinets and bearing the identification number NL-6114-EG, distributed by Monolith Alimentos España Sur (in Valencia) and Norte (in Catalunya) has been taken off the shelves after two consumers in the province of Alicante reported having been apparently affected by the bug.

Both showed ‘very similar symptoms’, although it has yet to be confirmed whether they caught botulism from eating dried roach.

All supermarkets and delicatessens in the towns of Dénia, Altea, La Nucia, Torrevieja, Benidorm, Orihuela and Alicante city have taken it off the shelves, as have those in the province of Castellón, Gandia (Valencia province) and Valencia city.

In Catalunya, shops in Barcelona, Badalona and Sabadell (Barcelona province), Salou (Tarragona province) and Lleida have withdrawn it from sale.

The Spanish Consumer, Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (AECOSAN), part of the ministry of health, says it has received a European alert after a case of botulism in Germany thought to have been caused by the same product.

Raw is risky: In Netherland E. coli in beef tartare is the ‘poop bacteria’

Because it’s raw beef.


Supermarket chain Jumbo is removing various beef tartar products, rissole and steak du boeuf from its shelves as the meat products may contain the E. coli bacteria.

jumbo_supermarktenAnd maybe something was lost in translation, but the NL Times story says, the E.coli bacteria, also known as the poop bacteria, can cause food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. It is particularly dangerous to pregnant women, elderly people and people with weakened immune systems.

Keep reptile–human interactions safe

While the contribution of the main food-related sources to human salmonellosis is well documented, knowledge on the contribution of reptiles is limited.

reptile–human interactionsWe quantified and examined trends in reptile-associated salmonellosis in the Netherlands during a 30-year period, from 1985 to 2014. Using source attribution analysis, we estimated that 2% (95% confidence interval: 1.3–2.8) of all sporadic/domestic human salmonellosis cases reported in the Netherlands during the study period (n = 63,718) originated from reptiles.

The estimated annual fraction of reptile-associated salmonellosis cases ranged from a minimum of 0.3% (corresponding to 11 cases) in 1988 to a maximum of 9.3% (93 cases) in 2013. There was a significant increasing trend in reptile-associated salmonellosis cases (+ 19% annually) and a shift towards adulthood in the age groups at highest risk, while the proportion of reptile-associated salmonellosis cases among those up to four years-old decreased by 4% annually and the proportion of cases aged 45 to 74 years increased by 20% annually.

We hypothesise that these findings may be the effect of the increased number and variety of reptiles that are kept as pets, calling for further attention to the issue of safe reptile–human interaction and for reinforced hygiene recommendations for reptile owners.

Increase in reptile-associated human Salmonellosis and shift toward adulthood in the age groups at risk, The Netherlands, 1985 to 2014

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 34, 25 August 2016, DOI:

L Mughini-Gras, M Heck, W van Pelt

74 people killed by Q-Fever outbreak in Netherlands dating to 2007; thousands sickened

The official death toll of people affected by Q-Fever since the outbreak in 2007 now stands at 74, an increase of 26 since the number was last updated, reports.

q.feverThe reason for the increase in deaths can be attributed to patients still carrying the live bacteria after the 2007 outbreak. The disease has symptoms of fever, headache, muscle aches and a decreased heart rate, among other things.

According to Annemieke de Groot, managing director of foundation Q-support, it is still important for doctors to remain alert and be able to recognize the symptoms. The foundation will explain the increased death toll at a conference at the Brabant provincial house in Den Bosch on June 20th.

The Q-Fever outbreak in the Netherlands in 2007 is considered one of the largest outbreak of this disease in the world. Thousands of people in the Netherlands fell ill. The disease is usually transmitted from animals to humans.

Vibrio cholerae and fish in The Netherlands

Vibrio cholerae non-O1 serogroup (VCNO) bacteraemia is a severe condition with a high case–fatality rate. report three cases diagnosed in the Netherlands, identified during a national microbiological congress, and provide a literature review on VCNO bacteraemia.

A search strategy including synonyms for ‘VCNO’ and ‘bacteraemia’ was applied to PubMed, Medline, Web of Science and Embase databases.

The three cases were reported in elderly male patients after fish consumption and/or surface water contact. The literature search yielded 82 case reports on 90 cases and six case series. Thirty case reports were from Asia (30/90; 33%), concerned males (67/90; 74%), and around one third (38/90; 42%) involved a history of alcohol abuse and/or liver cirrhosis The presenting symptom often was gastroenteritis (47/90; 52%) which occurred after seafood consumption in 32% of the cases (15/47).Aside from the most frequent symptom being fever, results of case series concurred with these findings. Published cases also included rare presentations e.g. endophthalmitis and neonatal meningitis. Based on the limited data available, cephalosporins seemed the most effective treatment. Although mainly reported in Asia, VCNO bacteraemia occurs worldwide. While some risk factors for VCNO were identified in this study, the source of infection remains often unclear. Clinical presentation may vary greatly and therefore a quick microbiological diagnosis is indispensable.

Vibrio cholerae non-O1 bacteraemia: description of three cases in The Netherlands and a literature review

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 15, 14 April 2016

MF Engel, MA Muijsken, E Mooi-Kokenberg EJ Kuijper, DJ van Westerloo

Don’t poop on the mussels

I enjoy a good mussel, with the broth and the bread and the beer.
This report describes an outbreak investigation starting with two closely related suspected food-borne clusters of Dutch hepatitis A cases, nine primary cases in total, with an unknown source in the Netherlands. The hepatitis A virus (HAV) genotype IA sequences of both clusters were highly similar (459/460 nt) and were not reported earlier. Food questionnaires and a case–control study revealed an association with consumption of mussels.

Analysis of mussel supply chains identified the most likely production area. International enquiries led to identification of a cluster of patients near this production area with identical HAV sequences with onsets predating the first Dutch cluster of cases.

The most likely source for this cluster was a case who returned from an endemic area in Central America, and a subsequent household cluster from which treated domestic sewage was discharged into the suspected mussel production area.

Notably, mussels from this area were also consumed by a separate case in the United Kingdom sharing an identical strain with the second Dutch cluster.

In conclusion, a small number of patients in a non-endemic area led to geographically dispersed hepatitis A outbreaks with food as vehicle. This link would have gone unnoticed without sequence analyses and international collaboration.

International linkage of two food-borne Hepatitis A clusters through traceback of mussels, The Netherlands, 2012

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 3

Boxman I, Verhoef L, Vennema H, Ngui S, Friesema I, Whiteside C, Lees D, Koopmans M.