The outbreak was first detected on 2 September last year, with a noticeable rise in Salmonella Enteritidis ST11 infections, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
By 11 January 2022, 272 confirmed cases had been reported in five EU/European Economic Area (EEA) countries and the UK. The majority (216) were pinpointed in France. Two deaths were recorded in adult men and 25 cases were hospitalised. A total of 60 cases reported consumption of eggs/egg products.
Some people contracting the food poisoning bug said they had visited restaurants in France serving eggs distributed by a common supplier, identified as Spanish Packing Centre A. The eggs originated from three Spanish farms. One tested positive for the outbreak strain.
Fresh table eggs from the farms linked to the outbreak were withdrawn and redirected for use in heat-treated egg products. No other countries received eggs from the same farms via Packing Centre A during summer 2021. Therefore, the source of infection for cases in late 2021 and in countries other than Spain and France could not be established.
This 2021 outbreak is linked microbiologically to a historical cross-border outbreak reported by the Netherlands in 2019. Eggs consumed by cases in the Dutch outbreak were traced back to a Spanish farm, but it was not possible to identify an epidemiological link with the 2021 outbreak.
Commenting on the situation, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control stated: "This suggests a wide distribution of the outbreak strain that could affect the food supply chain and/or earlier steps in the production chain. There may be multiple heterogeneous sources of S. Enteritidis ST11, and the outbreak strain could also be circulating at other farms, inside or outside Spain.
"The risk of new infections caused by the outbreak strain and contaminated eggs remains high in the EU/EEA. It is therefore important to foster cross-sectoral investigations of contaminations in the egg supply chain in countries where S. Enteritidis ST11 has been detected."