Imported lettuce served in daycare centres in the Jyväskylä region - in the western part of the Finnish Lakeland - has been confirmed as the source of an outbreak of salmonella bacterial infections that affected about 450 children and staff. City of Jyväskylä officials said in a statement that the same strain of salmonella was found in the lettuce and the affected patients.
Domestically-produced cucumbers and peas were also suspected to be the cause of the outbreak, but tests had revealed no connection between these products and the salmonella infections.
Director Tuija Sinisalo from the city's food supplier, Kylän kattaus, said the incident would likely spark debate on the safety of imported food products. She added that the firm relies on imports because lettuce is a seasonal product.
Yle.fi quoted her as saying: "Iceberg lettuce is a product that is not available domestically all year round. Such mistakes can occur both at home and abroad. There are responsible suppliers among both [domestic and import]. Yes, this will certainly trigger an evaluation as to whether there is a need to change practices."
The iceberg lettuce suspected of causing the salmonella outbreak had come from a Swedish manufacturer within a batch of 6,000 bags, 42 of which ended up in the central kitchen of Kylän kattaus.
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