The rise in unexplained European cases of salmonella poisoning, linked to the use of cucumbers in ready-to-eat foods, should remind food and drink firms to stay informed and mitigate the risk of non-compliance, according to testing and inspection company SGS.
Through its recently updated content platform Digicomply, SGS claimed to be able to distill content from more than 100,000 web sources into a single, bespoke data stream.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reported 147 cases of Salmonella enterica poisoning linked to the use of cucumbers in ready-to-eat meals.
So far, five countries have been affected – the UK, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Ireland – with the UK being worst hit with 129 cases.
Number of salmonella cases
Beginning in 2014, the number of salmonella cases reported was initially low, but these have since escalated with early 2017 and 2018 being identified as peaks.
EFSA and the European Center for Disease Control used whole genome sequencing to link all cases to a single strain of Salmonella enterica – S. agona – and to the use of cucumbers in ready-to-eat meals.
However, despite being able to identify Spain as the cucumber’s country of origin, they have so far been unable to find a connection between supply chains and no single primary producer growing the affected cucumbers.
Laboratory results for salmonella in all cucumber samples, taken either at primary production level in Spain or during distribution to/within UK, were found to be negative, EFSA reported.
Expect more poisoning
Without the clear identification of a point of contamination, the food industry could expect more cases of Salmonella enterica poisoning in early 2019, it added.
Those involved in the food processing and ready-to-eat food sectors were advised to remain alert to changes in food safety regulations and compliance, and ensure their quality assurance management systems were operating effectively, SGS said.
The Digicomply platform provides economic operators with “a single, comprehensive and targeted online data source” to help them stay up-to-date with news concerning changes to food regulations and compliance, the company added.
Manufacturers are also reminded to stay up-to-date with the latest food safety news, views and insight in Food Manufacture magazine, available here.
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