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Salmonella outbreak from Spanish eggs over, says UK

By Rory Harrington , 07-Sep-2011

The latest salmonella outbreak caused by tainted Spanish eggs has been declared over by UK safety authorities.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said that the outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis Phage Type (PT) 14b, had struck down more than 250 people throughout the UK since April 2011.

The source of infection was traced to eggs from a specific shed on one farm in Spain. In the UK, the eggs were mainly supplied to catering establishments.

The majority of the 262 total cases were in North West England (111), the West Midlands (38), Yorkshire and Humberside (36) and the East Midlands (31). However, there were also cases in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the problem had been solved after co-operation between UK and Spain.

“The FSA alerted environmental health officers and the implicated eggs were withdrawn,” said Liz Redmond, the body’s head of hygiene and microbiology. “The issue was reported to the Spanish authorities who then took prompt action to tackle the problem at source. The eggs were destroyed or heat treated, the affected flock of hens have been culled and the shed has been cleaned and disinfected.”

The HPA said that a drop in the number of new cases of Salmonella Enteritidis PT 14b “to the usual background level” suggested the outbreak was now under control.

Spanish salmonella

The incident is the latest in a number of Salmonella outbreaks in the UK linked to Spanish eggs.

In December 2009, the HPA said tainted eggs from Spain were responsible for 443 cases of the foodborne bug.

Research from the FSA in 2006 found that one in eight boxes of eggs from Spain contained Salmonella. The agency carried out the study after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the HPA had both flagged up concerns in 2004 about the prevalence of Salmonella in Spanish eggs.