The number of food safety incidents involving an international network dropped in the first quarter of 2022.

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) was part of 47 alerts from January through March this year compared to 64 in the final quarter of 2021.

So far this year, 25 involved a biological hazard with nine because of Salmonella, seven because of Listeria monocytogenes, five from E. coli and one each from Bacillus cereus, Cronobacter sakazakii and Norovirus.

Eleven incidents were caused by an undeclared allergen or ingredient such as milk, egg, nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and soy.

Eight involved a physical hazard like metal, glass, insects, a mouse and plastic while three were because of a chemical hazard such as ethylene oxide and MDMA (also called ecstasy).  

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

Almost half of the 47 incidents were reported to the secretariat by INFOSAN members, a third through the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), and the rest through various WHO internal channels.

Major incidents in early 2022
Food categories most commonly involved were snacks, desserts, and other foods, cereals and cereal-based products and vegetables and vegetable products.

Other alerts covered composite food, milk and dairy products, nuts and oilseeds, alcohol, fish and other seafood, eggs, food additives, food for infants and small children, fruit products, fruit and vegetable juices, herbs, spices and condiments, legumes and pulses, and meat products.

One of the main incidents was Cronobacter sakazakii cases linked to powdered infant formula produced by Abbott Nutrition in the United States. INFOSAN was notified about the issue on Feb. 17, 2022, and later that month was told products had been distributed to 53 countries.

Another major alert was for monophasic Salmonella typhimurium in chocolate produced by Ferrero in Belgium. WHO was made aware of the outbreak on March 27, when the source had not been identified. After the outbreak was traced to contaminated Kinder chocolate, INFOSAN was told distribution included 113 nations.

Fadi Naser Al-Natour, Jenny Bishop and Rachelle El Khoury presented at a health talk organized by INFOSAN on World Food Safety Day, June 7, about responding to food safety emergencies.

For the second quarter of 2022, INFOSAN is organizing capacity-building events including a training session for new members in Mexico, followed by national workshops for members in Benin, Guatemala and Sierra Leone.

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