The International Food Safety Authority Network (INFOSAN) was part of 58 alerts from July to September, compared to 46 in the second quarter of 2022.
Thirty-two incidents were classified into biological hazard categories, including 10 each for Listeria and Salmonella. Six of them were E. coli, two each of botulinum and her hepatitis A, and one each of Bacillus cereus and coxsackievirus.
Eleven items involved undeclared allergens or ingredients, including milk, almonds, eggs, walnuts, peanuts, soybeans, and wheat. Seven were caused by physical hazards such as glass, metal, insects and plastic.
Eight were due to chemical hazards such as mycotoxins, aconitine, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), ethylene glycol, ethylene oxide, histamine, and peracetic acid. Aconitine is a toxin produced by plants and BHT is an additive in foods such as grains.
Hepatitis A associated with berries
INFOSAN is administered by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The most commonly included food categories were snacks, desserts, and other foods. milk and dairy products; complex foods; meat and meat products; and vegetables and vegetable products. fish and other seafood; grains and grain-based products; fruits and fruit products; herbal spices and seasonings have also caused some incidents.
More than half of all incidents were reported by INFOSAN members, 28% through the European Commission’s Emergency Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and 19% through various WHO channels.
One of the highlights was hepatitis A in 6 European countries and the United Kingdom, linked to frozen berries. Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have reported more than 300 hepatitis A virus (HAV) genotype IB clusters and outbreaks with four unique related HAV sequences.
Investigations suggest that frozen berries may be linked to outbreaks and clusters of cases, along with human-to-human transmission of related HAV strains, INFOSAN said.
In July, an outbreak occurred in a Hungarian restaurant with 16 people contracting HAV IB infection. Some patients drank cold soup made from frozen berries. This led to a recall of his Ardo Fruitberry mix, which was manufactured and packed by a subcontractor for the group in Poland and sold to over 25 countries.
training and workshops
In another event, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) was detected in Dutch spinach and arugula. The relevant products were distributed internationally to 16 countries including Belgium, Germany, Kuwait, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, UK and USA.
Other studies were conducted by INFOSAN members to try to understand the increase in alerts associated with E. coli O157 and non-O157 STEC.
INFOSAN also participated in a training on foodborne disease surveillance and response organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office. Sessions were delivered to Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Four virtual INFOSAN workshops were held during the quarter in Benin, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Ireland and the UK. Its purpose was to help countries strengthen their capacity to manage food safety risks.
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