Spanish officials have said steps taken in response to more than a dozen Salmonella infections were “sufficient and proportionate” to protect public health.
Two outbreaks affected 14 people at two elderly care homes in Madrid late this past year and were linked to chicken burger meat. No information has been made public about the patients, such as their ages or severity of their illnesses.
The Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) said that because the supply chain of the products involved wholesale and they were not directly sold to the final consumer, the information about the incident was sent via official control channels and it was not considered necessary to publically warn about the existence of items in the market that may have posed a risk to health. This means names of the firms involved have been kept private.
In late December 2021, consumer group FACUA called for the companies involved to be named and details released to identify the contaminated meat to prevent more people from becoming ill.
The association wrote to AESAN and the Ministry of Health in Madrid about the lack of transparency given the potential seriousness of the situation.
Used in wholesale and not sold to the public
AESAN said it believes that the steps taken were “sufficient and proportionate” to protect the health of the public, considering the details of the incident.
A food alert was received on Dec. 7, 2021, from officials in Madrid, because of the presence of Salmonella in a product made with chicken burger meat after taking samples of several foods that would have been consumed by the affected people.
A Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) notification was posted on the same day that lists Malta and Portugal as receiving the meat and an operator in Ireland as being involved.
Investigations in Spain have been carried out at the manufacturing company to verify the safety of products it sells, according to officials. This company and a distribution business have notified their customers about the issue so that products can be withdrawn from the market and destroyed.
According to information available to AESAN, the product was distributed through wholesale channels in 6.8 kilogram packages, and is used for further processing. It is not sold directly to consumers via retailers.
AESAN added that if there was any new information that could have an impact on public health it would be communicated by the agency.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)