Fresh tartar sauce is the source of the salmonella outbreak in the Bruges hotel school Spermalie in early September.
EN 24 News reports on Friday Sept. 6 and the following days, 200 pupils and teachers fell ill at the Spermalie hotel and tourism school in Bruges. Laboratory testing of stool languages soon showed that Spermalie was affected by an outbreak of salmonella. The samples of the meals that were served in the school restaurant were then analyzed. An online survey of students and teachers was also launched to find out who had eaten what in which restaurant.
“All these elements together make us decide that the tartar sauce and perhaps more specifically the eggs used are at the source of this outbreak. Further research and typing of the salmonella strains will bring even more clarity on this, “says Liesbeth Van de Voorde, spokesperson for the FASFC food agency.
Sajila Saseendran of Gulf News writes Dubai Municipality has shut down an American restaurant after 15 people fell ill following a food poisoning outbreak recently.
The Food Safety Department of the civic body ordered the outlet to close and held its chef and Person-In-Charge (PIC) of food safety responsible for the salmonella infection that caused the outbreak, the municipality stated.
The department has downgraded the food safety rating of the outlet and revoked its PIC certificate.
The outlet in a Jumeirah mall will be under strict monitoring for the next six months once it will be allowed to reopen after the closure period to corrective measures.
The team collected samples and conducted internationally accepted tests following which they traced the infection to raw eggs used in hollandaise sauce, officials said.
It was found that the chef had used raw eggs in violation of the food safety rules.
Following this, the department issued a fresh alert to eateries preparing food with eggs reminding them about its ban on using raw eggs in ready-to-eat products.
In 2012, the municipality barred Dubai eateries from using raw eggs in ready-to-eat products after authorities found them as a cause of many salmonella infections reported here.
New regulations that restrict the use of raw and under-cooked eggs were introduced and it was also made mandatory to declare their use in food labels or menus.
The Baltic Times reports the Sigulda Regional Council turned to the State Police (VP) about the infection of four kindergarten children with salmonella, Sindija Brikmane, deputy head of the Public Relations Department of Sigulda Municipality, informed LETA.
Investigating the causes of the disease, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC) has received information from a laboratory that four children from local kindergartens in Sigulda Region have been diagnosed with the salmonella bacterium.
The municipality has previously announced that if the responsible authorities confirm that the caterer is guilty of causing the disease, the municipality will immediately terminate the contract with SIA Baltic Restaurants Latvia.
The Sigulda Regional Council promises to continue to monitor the inspection services and inform the public and the parents of the children about the current situation and the results of the bacterial samples taken.
Dozens of people have been poisoned after consuming British eggs contaminated with salmonella, an investigation has found, despite recent government assurances that the risk had been virtually eliminated.
Andrew Wasley of The Guardian reports at least 45 consumers have fallen ill since January this year in a major disease outbreak health officials have traced back to contaminated eggs and poultry farms.
Despite outbreaks of this strain occurring for more than three years, the government has issued no public warnings about the safety of hens’ eggs. In 2017, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) told the public that it was safe for vulnerable people, including pregnant women and the elderly to eat raw, runny or soft-boiled eggs. At the time the head of the FSA said: “The risk of salmonella is now so low you needn’t worry.”
Internal records obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian show that 25 egg-laying poultry flocks in the UK have tested positive for salmonella in 2019 so far, seven of them contaminated with the most serious strains of the bacteria. Two egg-packing factories – one that supplies leading supermarkets – have also been contaminated, records show.
Eggs produced by the infected poultry flocks were placed under restrictions, meaning they cannot be sold to the public and must be sent for processing to kill the bacteria or be disposed of – while birds from infected flocks were culled.
However, some contaminated eggs did reach the public, with PHE confirming that 45 people had become ill after eating eggs infected with salmonella since January. The exact route to the public is unclear.
The government records also reveal that in 2018, 28 flocks tested positive for salmonella, four of them with dangerous strains.
According to PHE a further 55 human cases prior to 2019 were also being linked to the outbreak.
The revelations come just two years after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) declared that almost all eggs produced in the UK were free of salmonella. A major health scare in the 1980s had led to warnings that vulnerable groups should not consume raw or lightly cooked eggs – or food containing them – because of the salmonella risk. The then junior health minister Edwina Currie sparked a public outcry after saying “most” British egg production was infected with salmonella.
But in 2017 the FSA lifted the advice, stating the presence of salmonella in eggs had been “dramatically reduced” and that “British Lion” eggs – which cover about 90% of UK egg production – were safe to eat.
Speaking at the time, the then FSA chair Heather Hancock said: “We are now saying if there is a British Lion egg, you’re safe to do that. The risk of salmonella is now so low you needn’t worry. And that’s true whether you’re a fit healthy adult, or whether you’re pregnant or elderly or young. It’s only people on strictly medically supervised diets who need to avoid those eggs.”
PHE stated that it had been investigating this strain of salmonella for three years, despite the FSA clearing eggs for consumption.
The British Retail Consortium said: “Food safety remains a top priority for UK retailers and all UK sourced eggs are produced to the Lion code of practice. Retailers will comprehensively investigate any safety issues in our food supply and will take swift action as necessary.”
In Feb. 2019, people started showing up sick with Salmonella at hospitals in Adelaide, South Australia.
Ultimately 58 people were sickened and health types linked the outbreak to a raw egg butter being served with Vietnamese rolls from three bakeries all owned by Angkor Bakery.
Last week, five people connected with the three Angkor Bakery stores, including two of the owners, faced the Elizabeth Magistrates Court in South Australia. They were charged with failing to comply with food standards and providing unsafe food products.
As my colleague Andrew Thomson of Think ST Solutions writes, outbreaks occur due to a systems breakdown: it’s a financial burden on everyone, including the broader food industry; it causes much pain and suffering for those involved and in legal terms a food business at the centre of an outbreak can be liable for injuries caused and prosecuted by health authorities for failing to provide safe food.
One of the bakery owners told awaiting media outside Court last week of the true cost of this incident to the business: lost public confidence and business sales and now the entire business concern is for sale; owners are unable to engage legal representation due to the financial cost; it has fractured the family.
Steve White from global insurance brokerage and risk management firm, Arthur J Gallagher (Australia), says the best way to protect your customers – and to avoid costly lawsuits, penalties and damage to reputation and business interruption – is to know your obligations, maintain food safety standards and have the right insurance.
Jess Davis of ABC News reports a frozen meringue was key to identifying and outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis (SE), a bacteria that until last year was not found in Australia, that sickened almost 200 people.
People first started getting sick in May 2018 and by July a cluster of cases had appeared in New South Wales. That was when health authorities started investigating.
“Health, through their investigations, were able to look at a number of isolates of Salmonella enteritidis that came from humans, who unfortunately had been ill, and use a technology called whole genome sequencing,” said NSW Food Authority CEO Lisa Szabo.
“So it’s a genetic-based technology that helps us join the dots, shall I say. And this was the first time they could see a group of people with the same whole genome sequence.”
Anyone with a confirmed case of SE was interviewed by investigators and asked for a detailed account of what they’d eaten — to try to find what the different cases had in common.
A few weeks after being interviewed, one of those people remembered they had a frozen meringue cake in their freezer, leftover from a birthday party, around the time they got sick.
Officers went to that person’s home, collected the cake and had it tested.
“We were able to isolate the Salmonella enteritidis and it had that same whole genome sequence. At the same time we could see who manufactured that cake,” Ms Szabo said.
“We could go back to the manufacturer, have a look at their environment, look at how they handle food and where they get their ingredients from, and that’s where we saw the connection to the egg farm.”
It wasn’t until September that the frozen meringue led investigators to a farm on the outskirts of Sydney, but by then the bacteria had slowly started spreading across the industry.
“Once we detected salmonella enteritidis on this particular farm, we then commenced another round of investigations … more from the biosecurity and then the farm side of trying to understand … [whether the] farm had other connections to other properties around the state” Ms Szabo said.
But how the bacteria made its way into Australian eggs in the first place is likely to remain a mystery.
One property in Victoria and 13 in NSW have been affected so far and more than half-a-million birds have been culled at a cost of $10 million.
The spread of SE has been blamed largely on the interconnected nature of the egg industry, with all the infected farms connected in some way.
Egg farmers often trade produce with each other, and equipment and workers also regularly move from farm to farm.
Veterinarian Rod Jenner said SE was difficult to contain because it could survive and multiply without a host and could live in the environment for up to two years.
“It can survive in dust and dirt, in vehicles, and can travel in the wind. Rodents, wild birds, that sort of thing, can carry it on their skin or in their bodies as well,” he said.
“So it has actually been demonstrated to travel vast distances and be contaminated, be deposited on other farms that have previously been free.”
A farmer’s worst nightmareBede Burke’s egg farm at Tamworth in NSW was the 11th property to be infected, with a notification it had tested positive to SE during a routine check just over three months ago.
“Your whole world crashes down around you, you know,” Mr Burke said.
“We just didn’t sleep for a week and that first seven or eight days was really traumatic. We had to learn how to both decontaminate and disinfect the premises.”
When the notification came through on the eve of the federal election, Mr Burke had to withhold his eggs from sale and was faced with the prospect of culling entire flocks.
“But then you’ve got heap of eggs on your premises, you can’t not stop packing eggs, we were still going to pack 90,000 eggs a day,” he said.
“It’s just stress beyond all belief and then start planning for the worst.”
But he was lucky the contamination was picked up early and while a swab of dirt and dust had tested positive, it hadn’t yet spread to his egg or birds.
There have been no confirmed cases of SE since June and the industry hopes that will be the end of it.
But the outbreak has raised serious questions about how biosecurity is managed. Despite the disease becoming a national problem, its enforcement and regulation is state-based.
Philip Szepe, who runs an egg farm at Kinglake in Victoria, tests for all strains of salmonella every three months.
But he’s concerned that not all farmers are as diligent and said biosecurity was too reliant on self-regulation.
“Government’s really good at responding to crisis. It’d be great if the Government had a bit more engagement with the industry around monitoring, surveillance and compliance,” he said.
“This morning, we received an official confirmation from the Institute of Microbiology of the University Hospital Tuzla that in the isolate, ie for three hospitalized patients, Salmonella bacteria was found, which was our suspicion,” said Blasko Topalovic, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Institute of Tuzla Canton.
According to the data of this Institute, more than one hundred persons were poisoned by food in Srebrenik. Most were from the area of this municipality but also from Gracanica, Gradacac and Tuzla. Some sought help at municipal health centers and some at UKC in Tuzla.
From the day of the poisoning to the present, a total of 61 people have come to the Infectious Diseases Clinic.
Of these, 13 were withheld from clinical treatment. Five children and eight adults were hospitalized.
Vulnerable groups are advised to avoid raw or lightly cooked duck eggs (above, right, are duck eggs from my friend and collaborator, Kate the vet, at Kansas State; we did research together but my department chair in firing me said I didn’t play well with others; what an asshole).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports in August 2018, two Oregon patients with diagnosed Salmonella infection were interviewed using a standard enteric illness questionnaire; both patients reported having eaten raw cake mix.
Standardized interview questionnaire data collected from 207 Oregon patients with salmonellosis in 2017 indicated a 5% rate of consumption of raw “cake mix or cornbread mix” (Oregon Health Authority, unpublished data, 2017). The binomial probability that both 2018 patients were exposed to raw cake mix by chance was determined to be 0.003, prompting the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to collect and test the contents of 43 boxes of unopened cake mix of various brands from six retail locations. OHA sent samples to the Institute for Environmental Health Laboratories in Lake Forest Park, Washington, for pathogen testing. Salmonella Agbeni was isolated from an unopened box of white cake mix from manufacturer A, and whole genome sequencing (WGS) data describing the isolate were uploaded to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pathogensexternal icon). OHA used the NCBI database to compare sequence data with the cake mix isolate (PNUSAS056022) and then consulted CDC’s System for Enteric Disease Response, Investigation, and Coordination (SEDRIC), a web-based, outbreak investigation tool designed for collaborative, multistate investigations of enteric disease outbreaks.* On October 19, OHA determined that clinical isolates from four patients from Maryland, Ohio, and Wisconsin, with specimen isolation dates ranging from June to September 2018, were genetically related to the Salmonella Agbeni isolate from the unopened box of white cake mix, within four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
On October 22, 2018, OHA notified state public health counterparts in the three states of this finding and inquired about raw cake mix exposures among their patients. The Wisconsin patient reported having consumed an entire box of raw white cake mix over several days during the likely exposure period. In addition, WGS analysis indicated that this clinical isolate was closely related genetically (within one SNP) to the isolate cultured from the Oregon white cake mix. On October 25, CDC requested officials in Maryland, Ohio, and Wisconsin to interview patients using a questionnaire with specific questions about baking exposures.
On October 31, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiated an investigation of manufacturer A with regard to the Salmonella-positive white cake mix. In addition to the investigation and document collection, FDA collected samples including an ingredient (flour), finished cake mix, and environmental samples. All collected samples tested negative for Salmonella. On November 5, a voluntary recall of manufacturer A’s classic white, classic butter golden, signature confetti, and classic yellow cake mixes was announced because they might be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
On January 14, 2019, CDC declared this outbreak, which totaled seven cases in five states,† to be over (1). This is the first time that OHA used WGS data on the publicly available NCBI website to detect a multistate outbreak associated with a widely distributed consumer product, which resulted in product action. WGS of food and environmental isolates and subsequent analysis on the NCBI and SEDRIC platforms are emerging as useful tools in identifying outbreaks associated with widely distributed products with long shelf lives and low background rates of consumption, such as raw cake mix. Detection of these outbreaks is typically difficult and relies mainly upon epidemiologic evidence from investigation of a larger number of cases (2–4). These efforts also highlight the value of collaboration between public health epidemiologists and laboratorians as well as the use of new technological tools for outbreak detection. During outbreak or cluster investigations, food and environmental samples should be collected as quickly as possible whenever practical, particularly when epidemiologic data suggest an association. WGS, in conjunction with the NCBI website and SEDRIC, can be used to identify genetically related isolates quickly.
US: Notes from the field: Multistate outbreak of salmonella Agbeni associated with consumption of raw cake mix – five states, 2018