German officials have urged people to follow hygiene rules and take care when handling raw meat following a number of Salmonella infections linked to poultry.
The number of confirmed people sick stands at more than 20 in six federal states which is up from the six mentioned in a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) assessment in February.
At that time, 193 cases of a certain sequence type of Salmonella Enteritidis had also been reported in Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK) between May 2018 and December 2020.
Another sequence type of Salmonella Enteritidis has sickened about 300 people in the UK. One person from Canada with a travel history to Europe was ill in 2019.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has warned people three times about breaded chicken linked to Salmonella infections and issued consumer advice. Earlier this month, Grzegorz Puda, Polish minister of Agriculture and Forestry, spoke with George Eustice, secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the problem.
Frozen breaded chicken products traced to different meat suppliers, slaughterhouses, and farms in Poland have tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis matching the outbreak strain.
More cooking at home during Coronavirus
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) are investigating the outbreak in Germany.
The BfR said as a result of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, people are increasingly cooking at home and more convenient products such as frozen food are being used. The agency added it is not always immediately apparent whether such products contain pre-cooked or raw meat.
Official food control data from 2018 shows that Salmonella was found in 5.6 percent of the chicken meat samples examined and Campylobacter in every second sample.
Salmonella is killed during the cooking of poultry meat if a high enough temperature is reached. However, it can be transferred to hands, household appliances and kitchen surfaces, and other foods can be contaminated.
Advice includes storing and preparing raw poultry products and other foods separately, carefully disposing of packaging materials, not washing the chicken, washing hands thoroughly with warm water and soap between the individual preparation steps and clean equipment and surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry products before using them again.
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