Category Archives: Foodborne Illness Death

Spain – Seven face charges in deadly Listeria outbreak in Spain

Food Safety News

Seven people are set to stand trial as part of Spain’s largest ever Listeria outbreak, which occurred in 2019.

A judge in a court in Seville this week decided to continue proceedings against seven defendants for offences including alleged crimes against public health and injury to a fetus resulting in abortion. At the conclusion of an investigation into the outbreak, Pilar Ordóñez also considered that Seville Council could be held civilly liable, this means it would have to pay compensation if convicted.

The outbreak from “La Mecha” brand chilled roasted pork produced by Magrudis affected almost 250 people. During the health alert between mid-August and mid-October 2019, four people died and there were six abortions.

Those investigated are José Antonio Marín Ponce, administrator of Magrudis; his wife, Encarnación Rodríguez Jiménez, responsible for production and the company’s self-control system; their children Sandro José and Mario Marín Rodríguez as well as a local veterinary inspector and two other people. Action against another four people has been stopped.

UK – Retired retail manager, 63, died of Salmonella after eating four fried duck eggs he had bought at country show, inquest hears

Daily Mail

A retired retail manager sadly died from one of the worst salmonella infections a consultant had seen in his career after eating four duck eggs bought at a country show.

Niptoon Tavakoli, 65, died in hospital two months after he was taken ill in June 2019, an inquest jury heard today.

Mr Tavakoli’s wife Cheryl told Doncaster Coroner’s Court that they had bought six eggs from the Melton Mowbray Deli stall at Messingham Show, in North Lincolnshire, during a family day out on Sunday, June 2, 2019.

Denmark – Denmark hit by a trio of Listeria outbreaks with unknown sources; eight deaths reported

Food Safety News

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Officials in Denmark are investigating three separate Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks that have affected almost 30 people with eight deaths reported.

The Statens Serum Institut, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) and DTU Food Institute are trying to find the sources of these outbreaks.

One had already been reported but the Statens Serum Institut has updated the number of people sick. This incident has affected nine people, all of them have been hospitalized and four have died. Five cases are men and four are women.

Patients range from 33 to 93 years old and all had an underlying disease or other immune system issue prior to infection that made them particularly vulnerable, such as meningitis or sepsis. Eight are from the Hovedstaden region of the country. Sample dates range from May 13 to June 6, 2022.

Whole genome sequencing found the strains were closely related and of the sequence type (ST) 37.

Speaking earlier in June, Nikolas Hove from Fødevarestyrelsen said it was rare to see so many Listeria infections in such a short period of time and officials were working to find out which foods were the cause of illness, so the outbreak could be stopped.

Fødevarestyrelsen has written to a number of large industry organizations calling for their members to sharpen in-house monitoring of Listeria. If they find the bacterium in the environment or products, they can have it typed for free at Fødevarestyrelsen’s laboratory.

USA – FDA Investigating Another Infant Death Potentially Related to Abbott Baby Formula

Food Safety Tech

On Wednesday, June 22, the FDA announced that it was investigating the death of an infant that occurred in January 2022 and is potentially related to Abbott baby formula. In a statement, the FDA said that it was notified of the death through a consumer complaint received on June 10, 2022. “The agency has initiated an investigation, given that the complaint referenced that the infant had consumed an Abbott product. However, the investigation of this most recent consumer complaint is in its preliminary stages and the agency will provide an update as it learns more,” the statement read.

The FDA has previously reported its review of complaints related to nine infant deaths. Two were found to be associated with the Abbott Nutrition Sturgis plant investigation. However, the FDA notes that, despite extensive investigation, the evidence does not rule in or rule out a definitive link between these infant deaths and the product produced at Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan-based plant.

Research – Vital Surveillances: Epidemiological Analysis of Foodborne Botulism Outbreaks — China, 2004–2020

China CDC

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  • Abstract

    IntroductionFoodborne botulism is a rare, potentially fatal illness resulting from the ingestion of foods contaminated with preformed botulinum neurotoxin types A, B, E, or F, produced by Clostridium botulinum. The descriptive epidemiology of foodborne botulism outbreaks in China during 2004−2020 was performed to inform public health response strategies.

    MethodsData from 22 of 31 provincial-level administrative divisions (PLADs) of the National Foodborne Disease Outbreaks Surveillance System during 2004−2020 and Embase, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Wanfang Data, and Chinese Science and Technique Journals (CQVIP) from January 2004 to December 2020 to identify indexed publications in the Chinese literature using the following search terms “botulism,” or “botulinum toxin,” or “Clostridium botulinum.” The number and proportion of outbreaks, illnesses, and deaths by PLAD, food types, and contributing factors were calculated.

    ResultsDuring 2004−2020, a total of 80 foodborne botulism outbreaks occurred in China, involving 386 illnesses and 55 deaths; most outbreaks were reported between June and August, with a sharp peak in January; 22 out of 31 PLADs reported foodborne botulism outbreaks, Xinjiang reported the largest number of outbreaks (20), followed by Qinghai (13); the most commonly implicated food was home-prepared traditional processed stinky tofu and dried beef, accounting for 51.25% events. Improper processing and improper storage in contributing factors accounted for 77.50% outbreaks. Initial misdiagnosis occurred in 27.50% of cases.

    ConclusionsOutbreaks of foodborne botulism had a high case-fatality rate. Targeted food safety and popularization education to farmers and herdsmen in Xinjiang and Qinghai related to botulism prevention should be carried out, and timely outbreak investigation and hospital surge capacity should be improved.

  • Belgian scholars in consumers of sausages first described botulism in 1896 (1). It was confirmed that the growth and germination of toxins occurred only under particular conditions in an anaerobic low salt, low-acid environment. People who ingest food contaminated with botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) produced by botulinum toxin can have a potentially fatal outcome (2). Outbreaks have been reported worldwide. In Canada, the first Clostridium botulinum type E outbreak in 1944 in Nanaimo, British Columbia was reported in 1947 (3); In China, Wu et al. first reported botulism in Xinjiang in 1958 due to edible semi-finished noodle sauce (4). A better understanding of the epidemiology of botulism outbreaks can help tailor local prevention and public health response strategies. Here, we reviewed surveillance data on outbreaks, illnesses, and deaths of botulism in China from 2004 to 2020.

USA – Will There Be a Cyclospora Outbreak in the U.S. This Summer?

Food Poisoning Bulletin

Will there be a cyclospora outbreak in the United States this summer? There have been multiple cyclospora outbreaks in the past nine years, including in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. This year may be no exception.

In the past, Cyclospora outbreaks have been linked to fresh produce, including cilantro, raspberries, basil, mesclun, vegetable trays, bagged salad mixes, and snow peas. The cyclospora parasite is transmitted through human feces. The oocyst must mature, or sporulate, outside of the body before it becomes infectious. This infection is not passed person-to-person.

It is very difficult to protect yourself against this parasite, since it can cling to produce, especially produce such as leafy greens and herbs, and is not easily washed or rinsed off. And since most of the foods it contaminates are eaten without being heated, there is no kill step to destroy the parasite.

UK – Three dead in UK fish Listeria outbreak

Food Safety News

Three people have died in an ongoing Listeria outbreak linked to fish in the United Kingdom.

The UK Health Security Agency, Food Standards Agency (FSA), Public Health Scotland and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) are investigating the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that was first made public in April.

Twelve patients across the UK have been identified, including three in Scotland, with onset dates of illness between October 2020 to March 2022.

Ten sick people are over the age of 65, and one is a pregnant woman. Three of those affected who are older than 65 have died.

Six people have fallen ill since January 2022. The majority of patients reported eating smoked fish.

The FSA and FSS are doing food chain and microbiological investigations including whole genome sequencing (WGS) but the cause is yet to be confirmed.

Canada – Two dead in Listeria outbreak at Ottawa retirement home

Ottawa Citizen

Two residents of a west-end Ottawa retirement home are dead after a Listeria outbreak, the source of which has not been identified.

Catherine Clausi, a spokesperson for the home on Meadowlands Drive, said it has worked with Ottawa Public Health and the regional infection prevention and control team to determine the source of listeria, but has been unable to do so.

“Despite a month of investigating the outbreak with Ottawa Public Health, no known source was identified,” she said.

She added that the home purchases all of its food “through reliable suppliers and requires staff to follow all food storage and handling procedures.

Research – Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Reported to National Surveillance, United States, 2009–2018

CDC

Abstract

Foodborne outbreaks reported to national surveillance systems represent a subset of all outbreaks in the United States; not all outbreaks are detected, investigated, and reported. We described the structural factors and outbreak characteristics of outbreaks reported during 2009–2018. We categorized states (plus DC) as high (highest quintile), middle (middle 3 quintiles), or low (lowest quintile) reporters on the basis of the number of reported outbreaks per 10 million population. Analysis revealed considerable variation across states in the number and types of foodborne outbreaks reported. High-reporting states reported 4 times more outbreaks than low reporters. Low reporters were more likely than high reporters to report larger outbreaks and less likely to implicate a setting or food vehicle; however, we did not observe a significant difference in the types of food vehicles identified. Per capita funding was strongly associated with increased reporting. Investments in public health programming have a measurable effect on outbreak reporting.

Foodborne diseases remain a major public health challenge in the United States, where 31 known pathogens cause an estimated 9 million illnesses, 56,000 hospitalizations, and 1,300 deaths annually (1). Efforts to improve food safety and reduce the burden of foodborne disease rely on data from foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak investigations to help prioritize food safety interventions, policies, and practices. Data from foodborne illness outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide vital information on the foods causing illness and common food–pathogen pairs. Those data are used by the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) to inform outbreak-based attribution models that attribute illnesses to specific food categories (2,3).

Foodborne illness outbreaks are investigated by local, state, and territorial health departments, CDC, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and are reported to CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Reporting Surveillance System (FDOSS) through the web-based National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). Although reported outbreaks are a rich data source, they represent a subset of all outbreaks occurring in the United States; not all outbreaks will be detected, investigated, and reported. Factors influencing which outbreaks are detected, investigated, and reported to CDC include both structural factors associated with the jurisdiction in which the outbreak occurred (e.g., infrastructure and capacity) and characteristics of the outbreak (e.g., size, geographic location, pathogen).

We integrated data from a variety of sources to examine structural factors and describe outbreak characteristics of foodborne outbreaks involving Salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, norovirus, and bacterial toxins that were reported to national surveillance. In addition, we assessed the effects of state variation in outbreak reporting on the types of food vehicles identified.

Norway Research – Outbreaks stable but illnesses down in 2021 

Food Safety News

The number of foodborne outbreaks in Norway has remained steady but fewer people were sick in 2021 compared to the year before.

A total of 25 foodborne outbreaks were announced this past year, which is on a par with 23 in 2020 but down compared to 46 in 2019 and 52 in 2018.

Overall, 327 people fell sick in the 25 outbreaks in 2021 with a range of three to 30 patients per outbreak. The 23 outbreaks in 2020 affected 495 people.

Data comes from a report that gives an overview of outbreaks and related illnesses reported to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) in 2021.