Salmonella dominated hazards dealt with by a global food safety network in the third quarter of 2020.

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) was involved in 37 events from July to September compared to 29 incidents in 2Q 2020.

Ten of 18 biological hazard incidents involved Salmonella while the next highest was E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes with two each. Norovirus, Pseudomonas spp., Clostridium botulinum, Bacillus cereus, Campylobacter spp. and Enterococcus faecalis were linked to one event each.

Six events involved an undeclared allergen such as peanut, milk, egg, soy, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Five were due to a physical hazard like plastic, glass, and foreign matter.

Five involved a chemical hazard including histamine, clenbuterol, and phytohemagglutinin and three were caused by unidentified hazards.

The most commonly involved food categories were nuts and oilseeds; snacks, desserts, and other foods; fish and other seafood; meat products; vegetable products and milk and dairy products.

Herbs, spices, and condiments; legumes and pulses; composite food; fruit products; fruit and vegetable juice; food for infants and small children; egg products; and cereal-based products were also linked to food safety issues.

Salmonella peach outbreak
In the quarter, there was a multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis in the United States and Canada linked to the consumption of fresh peaches produced in the U.S.

More than 100 people infected with the outbreak strain were reported from 17 states in the U.S. while 57 people were affected in two Canadian provinces.

Implicated products were distributed from the U.S. to Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Taiwan. They were also sent to New Zealand and were re-exported to Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Samoa, and Tonga.

Whole Genome Sequencing details were shared to help identify possible matching cases in these countries but no more illnesses were reported.

The second and third meetings of the INFOSAN working groups were held online in August and September. For the second session, participants discussed food recalls in an international context. During the third event, the group discussed allergens in food and their experiences when dealing with such issues.

INFOSAN is managed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The network was involved in almost double the number of incidents in 2018 and 2019 compared to 2016 and 2017, according to its activity report. Biological hazards were behind the majority of events, the most common of which was Salmonella.

Results from a study of INFOSAN were also published in the Journal of Food Protection to describe experiences of network members. The third and final phase of the research is ongoing.

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