Authorities in Belgium have warned that certain meat products could be contaminated with Salmonella following processing of potentially contaminated raw materials from the Netherlands.

The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) said an alert through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) shows fresh meat used as raw material that could be contaminated with Salmonella Goldcoast was delivered to Belgium from the Netherlands.

This RASFF alert covers a suspected foodborne outbreak caused by pig meat from the Netherlands. As well as Belgium, 14 other countries received pig meat products. These are Austria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.

According to figures from the national public health institute of Belgium, Sciensano, there has not been an increase detected in the number of infections with Salmonella in 2018 compared to the previous year.

A European Commission spokeswoman told Food Safety News that information provided via RASFF by Belgian authorities has been used by the Netherlands to withdraw products from the market.

“It looks like the contamination was the consequence of lowering the water temperature from 68 Celsius (154 F) to 48 degrees Celsius (118 F), creating conditions for bacteria development. The slaughterhouse has reinstated the 68 degrees temperature,” she said.

Recalled salami branded “Le Césarin” from Vleeswaren Peeters

FASFC ordered Vleeswaren Peeters and Imperial Meat Products to recall some products that made it to market. The agency also blocked potentially tainted products at these companies. Items have been sold at Carrefour, Cora, Colruyt Group, Delhaize Le Lion, Lidl, Makro and Match supermarkets.

Other products that undergo treatment to eliminate Salmonella and processed items which have a heating step to kill the bacteria are not affected.

Analyses provided by the companies involved have not yet confirmed if products were contaminated.

A Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) spokesman told Food Safety News that any product from possibly contaminated carcasses which has not received treatment to sufficiently reduce Salmonella is affected.

“The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has seen an increase in Salmonella Goldcoast infections in retrospect starting end of June. This prompted an investigation in October into the possible source by RIVM and NVWA,” he said.

“This led to a slaughterhouse who has performed an intervention to prevent further contamination of carcasses. Food business operators are now tracing the resulting meat and will recall any meat which has not received treatment to sufficiently reduce Salmonella. The NVWA is supervising that process.”

RIVM said it normally sees around eight cases of Salmonella Goldcoast a year but has 19 registered patients until now.

Salmonella Goldcoast is rare in Europe but was responsible for an outbreak in Italy in 2009-10 linked to salami and one in Hungary in 2009 traced to contaminated meat, probably pork. A 2013 outbreak in the UK was associated with eating whelks – a type of sea snail.

FASFC is also known by its French name, the Agence fédérale pour la sécurité de la chaîne alimentaire (AFSCA) and Dutch name, Federaal Agentschap voor de veiligheid van de voedselketen (FAVV).

Vleeswaren Peeters recalled 400-gram salami branded as “Le Césarin” with lot number 21837 and date Dec. 4, 2018, and lot number 21838 with date Dec. 11, 2018, that was distributed to Lidl stores.

Salamini 225g without garlic with lot number 21838 and date Dec. 12, 2018, was sold at Delhaize and “Salami aux noix Duo” 2x75g with lot number 21837 and “Salami aux noix” with the same lot number are also affected.

Imperial Meat Products recalled sliced “Jambon d’Ardenne” of the Marcassou brand with dates Dec. 4, 11 and 20, 2018, and Jan. 4, 2019, with any of the following lot numbers —  L004065, 004071, 004079 and 004092. The sliced ham was sold at Carrefour, Cora, Colruyt Group, Delhaize Le Lion, Makro and Match stores.

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