Salmonella continued to lead incidents involving a global food safety network, according to the latest data.

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) was part of 47 alerts from January to March 2023, which is the same number as from October through December 2022.

There were 28 incidents in the first quarter of 2023 involving a biological hazard with nine because of Salmonella and six for Listeria monocytogenes.

E. coli was mentioned three times as well as Clostridium botulinum and Hepatitis A twice each.  Anisakis, Cronobacter, Entamoeba histolytica, Leptospira, Norovirus, and Shigella all featured once. The parasite Entamoeba histolytica causes the disease amoebiasis. Leptospira bacteria can cause leptospirosis.

Hazards and foods involved
Nine events were because of chemical hazards such as methanol, aflatoxins, chlorothalonil, ergot alkaloids, histamine, lead, nitrogen, and patulin. Chlorothalonil can be used as a fungicide. It is allowed in the United States but is banned in Europe.

Six involved an undeclared allergen or ingredient and three were because of a physical hazard, such as glass, metal, or stones.

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

Food categories commonly part of incidents were fish and other seafood; meat and meat products; composite foods; and nuts and oilseeds.

Cereals and cereal-based products; fruit products; milk and dairy products; snacks, desserts, and other foods; vegetables and vegetable products; alcoholic beverages; food for infants and small children; herbs, spices, and condiments; legumes and pulses; and non-alcoholic drinks also caused alerts.

More than half of the incidents were reported by INFOSAN Emergency Contact Points and Focal Points.  The rest were communicated through the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), and various other WHO channels.

Update on the Salmonella outbreak
A multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka linked to chicken products from Ukraine was highlighted again.

As of early March, there were 132 UK cases, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

In November 2022, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported 89 cases in Finland and a few patients in the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Israel. Nineteen cases were hospitalized and one person in the UK died.

RASFF notifications show that implicated products linked to the outbreak were distributed to nine countries. INFOSAN officials contacted WHO countries outside the RASFF network to inform them of such distribution, seek information concerning the international distribution of the products, and request details on any possibly related cases. An investigation by Ukrainian authorities has resulted in risk management measures being taken at the facilities of the manufacturer.

In early 2023, INFOSAN organized three introductory workshops in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, and Peru. The events aimed to help new members understand the network’s role during food safety emergencies.

INFOSAN also held an introductory webinar in Honduras in April. A sub-regional introductory workshop for Pacific Island Countries and a sub-regional meeting for Central Asia, both in May. A national workshop in Jordan will take place to mark World Food Safety Day on June 7, 2023.

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