Jigsaw puzzle: France reports Salmonella poona cases in infants

Outbreak News Today reports that health officials in France are reporting four Salmonella Poona cases in infants whose strains are genetically linked.

The babies, two months to ten months in age, were sickened between the end of August 2018 and the end of December 2018. Three babies were hospitalized for their salmonellosis and all have been released.

Early investigations reveal a common food source with the four infants–powdered milk of the same brand produced by the same factory in Spain.

Investigations are currently being conducted with the Spanish authorities and the manufacturer to define the management measures to be put in place.

Operation Tarantelo: How the illegal bluefin tuna market made over eur 12 million a year selling fish in Spain

Europol coordinated the international Operation Tarantelo, conducted by the Spanish Guardia Civil with support of French, Italian, Maltese and Portuguese authorities, in which 79 individuals were arrested.

More than 80 000 kg of illicit Bluefin tuna were seized and it is estimated the network trafficked a volume of over 2.5 million kg a year

Several poisoning cases were detected due to the unsanitary conditions in which the fish were stored

Operation Tarantelo was launched when the Spanish Guardia Civil became aware of irregularities relating to Bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean Sea. Investigations revealed that the fish was being traded illegally in Spain, but imported into the country through French harbours, after being caught in Italian and Maltese waters. While the fish caught in Maltese waters were illegally imported using documents from legal fishing and authorised farms, the fish caught in Italian waters arrived in Spain without documents or inspections. Although most of the fish was caught in Malta and Italy, in Spanish waters there were also unauthorised catches, in this case, the illegally fished Bluefin tuna was transported in false bottoms under the deck of a vessel.

This illegal Bluefin tuna market was up to 2.5 million kg a year and it is estimated criminals earn at least EUR 5 profit per kg; total illegal profits amount to EUR 12.5 million. The volume of this illegal trade is double the annual volume of the legal trade, which is estimated to be 1.25 million kg.

The tuna business is often linked to other crimes such as food fraud or document fraud. The main risks for consumer health were due to the unsanitary conditions in which the fish was transported and stored. Sometimes the fish was hidden underwater after it was fished, awaiting transportation. The supply chain was interrupted several times, which made the tuna go off and the risk of food poising higher for eventual customers. Several cases of food poisoning were detected after eating the tuna, due to the degradation of proteins from the unhygienic conditions in which the tuna was stored.

Barcelona cops arrest 18 beach vendors for selling filthy E. coli riddled mojitos made from ingredients stored in bins and down drains

According to Harvey Solomon-Brady of The Sun, police in Spain have arrested 18 people for selling filthy mojitos riddled with E.coli bacteria to unsuspecting tourists on the beaches.

The cocktails contained “green powders of an unknown composition which were thrown into the drink” and other ingredients which were stored in sewers or rubbish bins.

Public health officials say the mojitos were totally unsuitable for public consumption and could have caused diarrhea, gastroenteritis and other digestive disorders.

Raids were carried out on the beaches along the popular Barcelona coast that were packed with holidaymakers of all nationalities, including Brits.

The green dust is currently being examined in labs but police say everyone who drunk one of these mojitos was put at serious risk.

The 18 people arrested are suspected of making the cocktails and then selling them, usually for between five and ten euros.

The mojitos were made with suspicious ingredients hidden in bins including a mysterious green power

The drinks are sold to unsuspecting tourists on Spanish beaches who think they have come from local bars

Almost all the drains on one particular street were filled with supplies

Spain’s police officers are now cracking down on the illegal trade which can leave holidaymakers very sick

Food fraud: Raids in Spain uncover expired meats about to be placed back on the market

Javier Arroyo of El Pais reports that Spain’s National Police and Civil Guard have seized hundreds of tons of expired jamón and other meat products that were about to be placed back in the market – in some cases, they were already back on sale.

In three separate raids conducted over the course of a few weeks, officers found that individuals and companies were apparently tampering with seals and labels to extend the shelf life of expired food products.

Sources at the Civil Guard and the Health Ministry said that the operations were independent from each other, but that further investigation is being conducted to determine whether there is a link between the cases.

The problem is no longer about lower-quality ham being passed off as gourmet or “pata negra,” a designation used for top pork products. This has been a more or less habitual scam that producers of real Iberian meats have been trying to eliminate through quality regulations established in 2014, as well as seals indicating the animal’s breed and feeding method.

This latest fraud involves taking expired food products that should legally be destroyed, altering their labels, and putting them back on the market.

Stop scamming in Spain: Crackdown on British tourists’ phony food poisoning

The British Ministry of Justice has announced new rules to stop British holidaymakers in Spain from scamming tour operators with fake food poisoning claims.

Under the crackdown, a limit will be set on the legal costs that can be claimed in overseas package travel claims. This will stop claims management companies from seeking legal costs that are out of proportion to the damages sought – a loophole that has often pushed tour operators to settle out of court.

In a press release, the Ministry of Justice said the change “would mean tour operators would pay prescribed costs depending on the value of the claim and length of proceedings, making defense costs predictable and assisting tour operators to challenge bogus claims.”

According to court documents, phony food poisoning claims may have cheated Spanish hotels out of as much as €60 million since 2014. The scam took off in the summer of 2016, with one hotel chain receiving 273 claims requesting compensation for 700 people.

The scam was simple enough. The tourist buys a travel package with any travel agent and stays at a Spanish hotel that includes all meals in the price. Back in Britain after the vacation, the tourist uses a claims-management company to file a complaint against the company that organized the trip, alleging that the hotel meals made him/her ill.

Current British consumer laws barely require the claimant to produce any evidence. No doctor’s report is necessary, and claims may be filed up to three years after the event.

Since it is hard to prove that the client did not get sick, and faced with high legal fees if the case goes to court, the tour operator accepts the claim, then pass on the cost to the Spanish hotels as per their contract, in which the latter accept responsibility for all damages.

In 2017, the Spanish Civil Guard arrested seven British nationals for their involvement in the scam.

According to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the number of claims jumped from 5,000 in 2013 to 35,000 in 2016 – an increase of 500%.

“Claiming compensation for being sick on holiday, when you haven’t been, is fraud,” said Justice Minister Rory Stewart. “This behavior also tarnishes the reputation of British people abroad. That is why we are introducing measures to crack down on those who engage in this dishonest practice.”

The Ministry of Justice says the new rules will come into effect shortly – well before summer begins.

In early April, a young couple who demanded compensation after claiming they fell ill on holidays were caught out thanks to their social media photos.

Chelsea Devine, 21, and Jamie Melling, 22, from Liverpool in the UK, went on a 10-day all-inclusive holiday to Benidorm, Spain in September 2015.

The holiday was booked with travel and tourism company TUI, and they stayed at the Levante Beach Apartments during their trip.

In May 2016, the couple both claimed they had contracted serious food poisoning from food and drinks consumed during their stay, and each demanded $4500 in compensation from TUI.

The pair claimed they were seriously ill during their holiday, and that the sickness lasted for weeks.

However, Liverpool County Court heard their social media accounts revealed a variety of happy, poolside selfies, which caused judge Sally Hatfield QC to brand them both as “fundamentally dishonest”.

They recently received a record fine of more than $27,000 for their fraudulent claim.

According to The Sun, Recorder Sally Hatfield QC said there was no evidence the pair had been ill during their trip.

In October 2017, UK couple Deborah Briton, 53, and Paul Roberts, 43, were jailed for making fake holiday sickness claims in a landmark case.

39 sick with Norovirus from frozen mussels in Spain

The appropriately named Olive Press has reported 39 people have become infected by norovirus after eating contaminated frozen mussels.

The outbreak  occured in Valencia, but the infected batch had already been distributed to Andalucia, the Balearic Islands and nine other regions.

The Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition has issued a warning to anyone who has bought frozen mussels from the batch to throw them away immediately.

The product is frozen cooked mussels from Galicia, called Mejillón media concha súper, under the Estrella Polar brand.

Any packaging containing the lot number 010DOP-18 should be thrown out.

The European Competent Authorities have also been informed through the Rapid Alert System for Food (RASFF).

1 sick from Listeria linked to raw sheep milk cheeses from Spain

On February 5 the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition has learned through the Coordinated System of Rapid Information Exchange (SCIRI) of the existence of an affected by meningitis in the Community of Madrid, as a result of intoxication food by Listeria monocytogenes presumably associated with the consumption of soft milk sheep cheese made by the company Ohian Txiki Koop located in the Basque Country. The affected one evolves favorably.

The cheeses allegedly involved are the following:

Gutizia, raw sheep milk cheese. 

Txuria , soft cheese from raw sheep’s milk. 

Beltza,  lactic cheese-curl of raw sheep’s milk.

These products have been distributed from the manufacturer to the Autonomous Communities of Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country. On February 7 there is evidence that from Madrid, there has been a small redistribution to Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Extremadura, Galicia, Valencia and Portugal, few units.

The removal of all batches of raw soft-ewe sheep milk cheese is being carried out. 

This information has been communicated through the system of the national alert network to the competent Authorities of the Autonomous Communities that are carrying out the appropriate actions, as well as to the competent Portuguese Authorities through the Rapid Alert Network System for Food and Feed. European.

As a precautionary measure, people who have some packaging of these products at home are advised, refrain from consuming them and if they have consumed them and if they present any unusual symptoms, it is recommended to go to a health center.

Things rarely happen until they do: 4136 sick from Norovirus in bottled water, Spain, 2016

In April 2016, an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness (4,136 cases) occurred in Catalonia, Spain. We detected high levels of norovirus genotypes I and II in office water coolers associated with the outbreak. Infectious viral tiiter estimates were 33–49 genome copies/L for genotype I and 327–660 genome copies/L for genotype II.

During April 11–25, 2016, a total of 4,136 cases of gastroenteritis were reported by the Public Health Agency of Catalonia (ASPCAT; Figure, panel A). A case-patient was defined as an exposed person who had vomiting or diarrhea (3 or more loose stools within 24 hours) and >2 of the following: nausea, abdominal pain, or fever (≥37.8°C). Six patients required hospitalization.

The epidemiologic investigation conducted by the ASPCAT pointed toward an association of the outbreak with drinking bottled spring water from office water coolers; the water had been bottled at a source in Andorra (M. Jané-Checa and A. Martínez-Mateo, Public Health Agency of Catalonia, pers. comm., 2016 Sep 1). Compared with other modes of transmission such as food or person to person, norovirus outbreaks associated with drinking water are rare in developed countries. On April 15, 2016, as a precautionary measure, the company producing the bottled water recalled >6,150 containers of water of suspected quality that had already been distributed to 925 companies. The water complied with all requirements of the European Commission directive on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters, but these requirements do not include any virologic determination.

Norovirus in bottled water associated with gastroenteritis outbreak, Spain, 2016

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 23, Number 9—September 2017

Albert Blanco, Susana Guix, Noemí Fuster, Cristina Fuentes, Rosa Bartolomé, Thais Cornejo, Rosa Maria Pintó, and Albert Bosch

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/23/9/16-1489_article

 

Probably noro: 252 sick from cafeteria at Spanish hospital

Ainhoa Iriberri of El Español reports (and something may be lost in translation) there are already 252 those affected by the outbreak of acute gastroenteritis that ravaged last week to the Hospital of Bellvitge, in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. The Public Health Agency of Catalonia (ASPCAT) has reported the increase of victims, which last Friday had been set at 190, all workers at the health center.

In all cases the symptomatology has been mild so, despite the high number of affected, the outbreak has had no attendant consequences. That is to say, it has not had to reprogram surgeries nor close operating rooms, always according to the governmental organism.

This has also indicated that the analysis of samples is ongoing but that, so far, two of them have proved to be norovirus positive, reason why it is suspected that this pathogen is the cause of the massive infection.

Although the information is still preliminary, it seems also to confirm where the source of the infection would be that is not other than the snacks served in the cafeteria for hospital staff between Tuesday and Friday.

Or sick employees.