Public health officials in Argentina have issued warnings about botulism and E. coli recently.

The National Food Safety and Quality Service (Senasa) said safe and responsible consumption of canned food and other packaged products of animal and vegetable origin is key to avoiding foodborne botulism, especially during summer when high temperatures help the growth of bacteria.

The greatest risk comes from foods such as vegetables or dried meats packed, preserved, or processed incorrectly. Botulism is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Growth does not occur in acidic conditions with pH values below 4.6.

Senasa urged people to only eat items approved by the relevant authorities with the authorization number of the product and producer plus information on the brand, batch, and shelf life. The agency added that consumers should not eat products with no labeling. Other tips include avoiding food in cans that are dented, bulging, or have swollen lids.

E. coli complication
The Ministry of Health of Córdoba has reported the number of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) cases caused by E. coli for 2022. About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infection develop potentially life-threatening kidney failure complications.

In 2022, 26 cases were registered in the province. Almost all were males and females younger than 5 years of age. In 2021, 25 patients were confirmed, but the figure is down from 34 in 2020, 37 in 2019, and 38 in 2018.

In 2022, seven cases were younger than one year of age, and 18 were aged 2 to 4. The other patient was in the 5 to 9 years old age group. Seventeen were males and nine were females.

Authorities said good hand and surface hygiene, thorough cooking of meat, proper washing of vegetables eaten raw, and the use of potable water for cooking or drinking, are essential measures to prevent infection.

The Ministry of Health in Bahía Blanca confirmed some cases had been detected in the region recently and in Rosario, six patients were reported in 2022 and one in 2023 so far. They were between 2 and 12 years old. One recent case of HUS was also registered in Salta in a 4-year-old girl.

Every year on August 19, Argentina marks a national day to raise awareness about HUS and how to prevent the disease.

Counterfeit cake
Finally, officials have warned the public about the sale of a brand of pan dulce, also called panettone, with modified shelf life dates. Pan dulce is a type of sweet bread filled with fruits or chocolate.

The implicated product

Affected Balcarce brand of ‘Pan Dulce con trocitos de chocolate’ 500-gram has a best-before date of 2023.

The problem was found when a consumer contacted Postres Balcarce, who brought the issue to the attention of Argentinian authorities, as it did not make the product in 2022. The text type used to display the lot code and expiration date does not match those used by the company.

The National Administration of Drugs, Foods and Medical Devices (ANMAT) advised people not to eat bread-type product with chocolate as quality and safety cannot be guaranteed.

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