On 11 December, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reported a recall of all frozen feeder mice products for feeding reptiles produced by Monkfield Nutrition, due to the presence of Salmonella in the products. The recall did not extend to Monkfield’s other products.
In an alert issued on 14 December, Food Standards Scotland (FSS) warned: "FSS is issuing further instructions to reptile owners, following an outbreak of human salmonellosis linked to frozen mice used to feed snakes and other animals and birds.
"FSS, along with the FSA, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the UK Health Security Agency, Public Health Wales and Public Health Scotland, are advising animal keepers not to feed their pets specific batches of frozen mice.
'Almost 900 cases of illness'
"Since the outbreak was first reported in 2015, there have been almost 900 cases of illness."
FSS and the FSA are instructing reptile owners and others who have a supply of the affected frozen mice to return them to the place of purchase so they can be carefully disposed of.
However, they are also warning people to be extra careful when handling any frozen rodents including mice product and packaging, not just the batches identified, due to the risk of salmonella from other batches linked to the recall.
'Washing hands thoroughly'
"People should be extra vigilant, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after contact, when handling not just the product, but their reptiles and associated equipment and environment, due to the risk of the illness," FSS stated.
FSS warned the product withdrawal and recall would cause short term shortages.
However, FSS said there should be sufficient mice to maintain animal welfare for all snakes and other animals – including birds that need to be fed mice – provided owners adapt their current feeding routines.
Recall linked to Salmonella
A spokesman for FSS said: “In September this year, FSS and the FSA introduced new requirements for shops to provide a leaflet warning about the risks of salmonella and how to keep customers safe when buying and feeding frozen mice to their reptiles.
“However, the outbreak continues and a full withdrawal and recall of the specific batches of frozen mice is necessary. The withdrawal and recall does not affect rats from the same supplier, however investigations are continuing, should concerns about the safety of rats be identified, advice will be updated.”
People with the affected feeder mice product in their freezers were advised to return it to the where the product was purchased from so that it can be disposed of carefully. They were further advised to thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces it had been in contact with, including hands.
“We are also asking people to be extra vigilant with all frozen rodent product, however, do check the specific information about which batches are involved as retailers will not be accepting other material,” the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, snack manufacturer Tayto Group has recalled packs of pork scratchings, after 179 reported cases of salmonella were linked to the snacks.