Alerts involving a global food safety network spike; Frozen berries are causing outbreaks in six countries

The number of food safety incidents affecting an international network increased in the third quarter of this year compared to the previous three months.

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) was part of 58 alerts from July to September compared to 46 alerts in the second quarter of 2022.

32 incidents occurred in the biohazard category dominated by Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella with 10 each. Escherichia coli retarded with six, Clostridium botulinum and hepatitis A each, and Bacillus cereus and Coxsackievirus each.

Eleven included an undisclosed allergen or ingredient such as milk, almonds, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy or wheat. Seven were caused by physical hazards including glass, metal, insects and plastic.

Eight of these were due to chemical hazards such as mycotoxins, aconitine, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), ethylene glycol, ethylene oxide, histamine, and paraacetic acid. Aconitine is a toxin produced by plants and BHT is an additive in foods such as grains.

Hepatitis A is associated with berries

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations run INFOSAN.

The most popular food categories were snacks, sweets, and other foods; milk and dairy products; meat and meat products; vegetables and their products. fish and other seafood; cereals and cereal-based products; fruit and fruit products; Herbs, spices and condiments have also caused some accidents.

More than half of all incidents were reported by members of the Infosan network, 28 percent through the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, and 19 percent through various WHO channels.

One of the highlights was hepatitis A in six European countries and the United Kingdom linked to frozen berries. Clusters and spreads of hepatitis A virus (HAV) genotype with four unique sequences but associated with HCV have been reported with more than 300 cases in Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Infosan said investigations indicate frozen berries could be linked to outbreaks and clusters of cases, along with human-to-human transmission of related hepatitis C virus strains.

In July, an outbreak was linked to a restaurant in Hungary, where 16 people also had HAV IB infection. Some patients ate cold soup made from frozen berries. This led to the withdrawal of the Ardo Fruitberry blend, which was produced and packaged by the group’s subcontractor in Poland and distributed to more than 25 countries.

Training and workshops

Another event involved the detection of shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in spinach and rocket from the Netherlands. Related products have been distributed internationally to 16 countries including Belgium, Germany, Kuwait, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

Further investigations have been undertaken by INFOSAN members to try to understand the increase in alerts involving Escherichia coli O157 and non-O157 STEC.

Infosan also participated in a training organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, on Foodborne Disease Surveillance and Response. Sessions have been delivered to Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Four INFOSAN virtual workshops were held during the quarter in Benin, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The aim was to support countries in strengthening their capacities to manage food safety risks.

(To sign up for a free Food Safety News subscription, click here)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: