It’s unclear how many members of the European Union received eggs from Poland that have been implicated in an ongoing Salmonella outbreak that began in July 2015 and has sickened almost 150 people.
Belgium, France and Germany received some of the eggs, according to information filed with the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). As many as 10 countries may have received the eggs, according to reports from Radio Poland.
Croatia and the Netherlands filed official notifications last week with RASFF. Chicken eggs from Poland were sampled Oct. 12 for Salmonella enteritidis and the eggs have been withdrawn from the market in Croatia, according to its notification.
After testing a large number of eggs, Croatian health authorities have not isolated salmonella in any samples taken, according to the country’s agriculture officials who issued a statement Thursday.
“Following the official information provided by the Health Ministry about a case of food poisoning caused by Salmonella believed to have come from eggs and a notification received through the EU RASFF food and safety alerts system about a possible salmonella outbreak in several member states, Minister Tomislav Tolusic, acting in agreement with the Health Minister, is notifying the public that eggs originating from Poland are being recalled from the market,” the Croatian Agriculture Ministry said in a news release.
The European Commission set up a meeting Friday with representatives from several EU countries to discuss the situation. The Polish Agricultural Ministry reported the eggs had been sent to Belgium, the Netherlands and Croatia, according to Radio Poland.
Although distribution details remain unclear, Belgium officials reported the eggs did not go to retailers.
However, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain in Belgium “several shipments of Polish eggs contaminated with Salmonella” were distributed to seven EU countries, including hundreds of restaurants in Belgium, from “various Dutch suppliers.”
Resurgence of outbreak
Health, agriculture and food safety officials in six EU countries have been watching the Salmonella outbreak since July 2015. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) thought the outbreak was over early this year, but a surge of new cases that began in April refocused attention, with the case count estimated at 150 in recent weeks.
Amidst the ongoing outbreak, the ECDC reported in August that infections from Salmonella bacteria declined from 2006 through 2010.
“There was an 8.8 percent reduction in the number of confirmed cases between 2009 (with) 108,618 confirmed cases and 2010 (with) 99,020 confirmed cases. This decline has been attributed to the successful implementation of Salmonella control programs in poultry populations,” according to the August report.
Research in the European journal on infectious diseases, Eurosurveillance, says while control measures have been somewhat successful they have not addressed all laying hens whose eggs are produced for sale.
“Despite the overall decrease in outbreaks of Salmonella infection in the EU, surveillance data since 1991 in Poland have shown that egg products play a pivotal role in the occurrence of salmonellosis outbreaks in humans, with 63 percent of the outbreaks between 2005 and 2010 being linked to this source,” according to the research abstract.
“The most striking increase has been in the proportion of outbreaks due to S. Enteritidis infection linked with the consumption of home-produced eggs: surveillance data show an increase from 76 percent of all S. Enteritidis outbreaks in 2004 to 82 percent in 2010.”
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)