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One Bad Jar Blamed for Scottish Botulism Outbreak

The incident management team has released the final report on last November’s botulism outbreak involving three siblings.

It began when a 5-year-old boy and then his 7-year-old sister were admitted to the hospital November 8 and 9, respectively, with symptoms that included double vision, sore mouth and lower limb weakness. In a matter of hours, botulism went from being a “possible though unlikely diagnosis” to “sufficiently strong to warrant obtaining trivalent botulinum antitoxin which was administrated to both children, after which the condition stabilized.”

Health Protection Scotland issued a public alert about the botulism threat on November 11 to European Union counties via the established Early Warning and Response System. (EWRS).

Two days later, the investigation team determined that a jar of commercially available korma sauce was the vehicle of intoxication. The United Kingdom’s Food Safety Agency (FSA) took immediate action to remove the affected batch from the supply chain and retail market.

The product FSA recalled was Loyd Grossman Korma Sauce, produced by a branch of the London-based Premier Foods Group Ltd.

“FSA also alerted the public to the potential risks from consumption of sauce from jars of korma sauce from the same batch,” the final report says. The Health Protection Service alerted clinicians in Scotland about the incident and provided warning information early signs and symptoms of botulism.

The outbreak wasn’t over yet, though. A third member of the same family, a 3 1/2-year-old year old girl experienced swallowing problems and was diagnosed with suspected botulism.

All three children recovered from their illnesses.

The final report found no evidence that the korma sauce in the family’s home was contaminated nor did it find any faults in the manufacturer’s production facility or supply chain that could explain the contamination.

“No evidence suggested that any jar, other than the one purchased by the affected family, had been contaminated, ” the report concluded. The incident was formally closed on Dec. 6, 2011.

An Outbreak of Food-borne Botulism in Scotland, November 2011,” published in August, 2012 by Health Protection Scotland and National Health Services Scotland is now available.

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