Large Salmonella outbreak linked to melons

By Joe Whitworth on June 1, 2021

Cantaloupe melon

Melons have been linked to a Salmonella Braenderup outbreak that has affected 200 people in more than 10 countries.

Patients have been reported in Denmark, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland. Illnesses started in late March.

Czech Republic and Spain have also recorded recent Salmonella Braenderup infections but it is not yet clear if they belong to this outbreak.

Three melon types from 3 countries implicated

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) reported that the source is thought to be whole honeydew, cantaloupe and galia melons from Costa Rica, Honduras or Brazil.

dreamstime_galia-melon-produce-fruit-656x372
Galia melon

Most UK retailers are believed to have stocked the affected melons bought on or before May 28 but they have now been removed from sale.

In the UK, 52 people fell sick between March 29 and April 28. In total, 33 females and 19 males aged 0 to 88 years old are affected.

Public Health England, Food Standards Scotland and other UK health protection and food safety agencies are part of the ongoing investigation.

One person is ill in Canada with symptom onset of March 8. The 53-year old male has no history of travel.

Consumers can identify the country of origin from a sticker on the fruit. If people are not sure about where the galia, cantaloupe or honeydew melon came from they are advised not to eat it.

Tina Potter, head of incidents for the Food Standards Agency, said: “As a precaution we are advising people not to eat these melons and to dispose of them. It is important that consumers wash their hands and any surfaces that have been in contact with the melons thoroughly. This will help avoid the risk of cross contamination and the risk of illness.”

Country specific situations

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is supporting an international outbreak investigation.

“This is a rapidly evolving international outbreak with more than 200 cases of Salmonella Braenderup. There is a predominance of women among the cases. Given the extent of cases within but also outside of the EU, it is likely to be a food item with a wide geographical distribution.”

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) has been following the multi-national outbreak since May 10.

dreamstime_honeydew-melon-produce-fruit-656x372
Honeydew melon

Denmark identified 27 people with Salmonella Braenderup infections between March 26 and April 28. Nineteen are female and eight male, ranging from 1 to 90 years of age. They are geographically spread and have not travelled outside of the country.

Norway has five cases between April 13 and 26 in a nursing home. Four are female aged from 77 to 93 years old and three are a confirmed match with the outbreak strain.

Sweden has 36 patients between April 4 and May 15 with 29 females and seven males aged 0 to 95 years old.

Belgium has 42 infections with four confirmed between March 23 and May 5. Thirty are female with those sick ranging from 1 to 97 years old.

Thirteen patients live in the Netherlands. Six are female, three are male with an age range of 4 to 84 years old.

Five people are sick in Finland with three confirmed between April 13 and May 2. Three are females and two are males aged 44 to 75 years old.

One man is affected in France.

There are four patients in Ireland since March 30.

Germany has 49 cases of which 13 are confirmed since March 30 with 23 females and 12 males sick. The age range of those affected is from 1 to 79 years old.

In the Czech Republic, four cases have been reported between March 22 and April 29. They are three females and one male aged 1 to 40 years old.

Two cases in Spain from February 28 and April 9 are in infants, 2 and 5 months old.

Switzerland has 15 cases with 12 confirmed between March 24 and May 7. Twelve are females and three males from 7 months to 87 years of age.

This report by Joe Whitworth first appeared in Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission.

Feds urge consumers to nix pig ear dog treats

FDA AND CDC ARE ADVISING THAT CONSUMERS AVOID ALL PIG EAR PET TREATS, AND THAT RETAILERS STOP SELLING ALL PIG EAR TREATS AT THIS TIME.

THE OUTBREAK

Pig ear dog treats are behind a multi-strain outbreak of Salmonella infections that has sickened 127 people in 33 states, according to the latest update from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Twenty-four (21%) of the illnesses are in children under the age of five.

Fifty-five (45%) of the victims are female.

Twenty-six (26) of the victims have been admitted to hospital. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 16, 2015 to July 6, 2019. Outbreak victims range in age from less than 1 year to 90 years, with a median age of 40 years.

Illnesses have been reported to CDC from Alabama (1), Arizona (1), California (1), Colorado (3), Connecticut (1), Florida (3), Georgia (2), Hawaii (1), Illinois (7), Indiana (5), Iowa (23), Kansas (3), Kentucky (6), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Massachusetts (4), Michigan (12), Minnesota (1), Missouri (6), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (1), New York (15), North Carolina (2), North Dakota (1), Ohio (5), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (6), South Carolina (2), Texas (2), Utah (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (4).

To date, CDC has identified four different Salmonella serotypes as contributing to the outbreak: Salmonella enterica serotypes I 4,[5],12:i:-, Infantis, London, and Newport.

Based on epidemiology, lab results, and traceback investigations, pig ear dog treats appear to be the source of the outbreak.

In addition to the Salmonella serotypes already identified in the outbreak, testing carried out by Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the FDA found Salmonella PanamaSalmonella BrandenburgSalmonella Anatum, and Salmonella Livingstone in treat samples purchased from retailers.

CDC is reviewing its databases to determine whether any of the additional strains have been associated with reports of human illness.

Illnesses were linked to contaminated pig ear dog treats were imported from Argentina and Brazil, according to traceback investigations carried out by FDA. However, these two sources do not account for all of the 127 reported infections.

In addition to the existing Import Alert 72-03 on pig ear pet treats, FDA is increasing its scrutiny of pig ears imported into the United States through sampling and examination.

THE RECALLS

On July 3rd, Pet Supplies Plus recalled bulk pig ears stocked in open bins from its stores in 33 states.

On July 26th, Lennox Intl. Inc. recalled Natural Pig ears that were shipped to to nationwide distributors and/or retail stores from May 1st, to July 3rd, 2019.

On July 30th, Lennox expanded its recall to include packages of Premium Natural Pig Ears shipped to nationwide distributors and/or retail stores from November 1st 2018, to July 3rd, 2019.

More products may be recalled and more suppliers identified as testing continues.

FDA STATEMENT

The FDA takes seriously our responsibility to protect both human and animal health,” said Steven M. Solomon, D.V.M., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Multiple products have tested positive for numerous types of Salmonella resulting in two company recalls to date. Given this and the links to human illness, we believe the most effective way to protect public health at this time is to warn consumers to avoid purchasing or feeding their pets all pig ear treats and for retailers not to sell these products. We also continue to advise those who may have come into contact with potentially contaminated products to practice safe hygiene, including thoroughly washing hands and disinfecting any surfaces that have touched pig ear pet treats. The FDA will provide additional updates as our investigation further progresses.

ADVICE FOR PET OWNERS

  • Do not feed any pig ear treats to your dog. Throw them away in a secure container so that your pets and other animals can’t eat them.
  • Even if some of the pig ears were fed to your dog and no one got sick, do not continue to feed them to your dog.
  • Wash containers, shelves, and areas that held any pig ear dog treats with hot, soapy water. Be sure to wash your hands after handling any of these items.
  • People who think their pets have become ill after consuming contaminated pet food should first contact their veterinarians. Veterinarians who wish to have pets tested for Salmonellamay do so through the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN Network) if the pet is from a household with a person infected with Salmonella.
  • FDA encourages consumers to report complaints about pet food products electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. This information helps FDA further protect human and animal health.