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Europe’s cucumber salmonella outbreak reminds manufacturers to stay current

Annually Europe is experiencing a rise in cases of Salmonella poisoning linked to the use of cucumbers in ready-to-eat foods. Without a clear source of contamination, SGS is reminding manufacturers of the importance of quality assurance and staying informed about food compliance to help ensure their products are safe to consume.

In recent years, Europe has experienced several cases of Salmonella poisoning linked to the use of cucumbers in ready-to-eat meals. Though intermittent, authorities have identified an escalating trend, which they are predicting is set to continue.

Since 2014, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reported 147 cases of Salmonella enterica across five European countries – the UK, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Ireland. By far the worst hit has been the UK, with 129 cases, followed by Finland with 15 cases. While initially the number of reported cases was limited, these numbers have been increasing in recent years, with peaks identified in early 2017 and 2018.

Using whole genome sequencing (WGS), the EFSA and European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) has identified a single strain of Salmonella enterica, S. Agona, as being responsible for all these cases. They have also been able to link the outbreaks to the use of cucumbers in ready-to-eat meals but have been unable to identify a clear point of contamination. It is understood the cucumbers all originated from Spain, but they found there was no connection between supply chains and no single primary producer growing the affected cucumbers. The EFSA reported that, “laboratory results for Salmonella in all cucumber samples, taken either at primary production level in Spain or during distribution to/within UK, were negative.”

Without the identification of a clear point of contamination, the EFSA is predicting a continuation of the tread, with more outbreaks of Salmonella enterica poisoning expected in early 2019.

For those involved in the food processing and ready-to-eat food industries, this is clearly a cause for concern. Without an identified point of contamination, they must rely on their quality assurance management systems to ensure the products they market remain safe for consumption. A key ally in protecting businesses is up-to-date information on changes to regulations and compliance.

SGS recently launched the latest version of its SGS Digicomply online regulatory intelligence platform. SGS Digicomply provides a single, comprehensive and targeted online data source to help manufacturers stay informed about the latest changes to food regulations and compliance, as well as news from the industry.

With ever-changing market landscapes and shifts in consumer priorities, regulatory authorities are constantly under pressure to evolve their legislation and standards. Issues, such as the European Salmonella outbreak, increase the pressure from consumers and authorities to increase transparency relating to food sources. SGS Digicomply helps stakeholders stay ahead of these pressures, allowing them to reduce time-to-market, improve decision making process, reduce risks, and protect their customers and brand.

For more information, please contact:
Charon Willis
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3008 7860

Publication date: 8/10/2018



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