Imported beef is to blame for a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 50 people, according to Danish officials.

Since March, 51 people in Denmark have been infected with the same type of Salmonella, said the Statens Serum Institut (SSI).

The Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak has sickened 31 men and 20 women. Patients are between the ages of less than 1 year old to 83 years old with a median age of 37. They live throughout the country. 18 people have been hospitalized but no deaths have been recorded.

From patient interviews, 35 of 37 people reported eating ground beef prior to disease onset. The trace-back link to Hilton Foods was made through investigation of eight patients’ consumer purchase data.

The SSI, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen), and DTU Food Institute investigation revealed the meat is imported from England and ground at the Danish site of Hilton Foods.

Associated recalls
Hilton Foods Danmark has recalled a variety of ground (minced) beef produced between March 12 and May 6. Products have use-by dates ranging from March 11 to May 13. They were sold in Dagli’Brugsen, SuperBrugsen, 365 Discount, Coop, Irma, and Kvickly stores across the country.

Ground beef containing meat of English origin produced from March 19 to 23 has been recalled as it is the probable source of Salmonella infection.

Beef including meat of English origin produced on May 4 and 5 has also been recalled as Salmonella was found in the product after the company’s own checks.

Ground beef produced with English raw materials on other dates in the period from March 12 to May 6 is also recalled, as raw materials from the same supplier are included in the products.

Some of the meat has passed its use-by date and is no longer in stores, but consumers may still have it in the freezer. Other potentially affected products were in stores until recently, and authorities advised consumers to throw the meat away or return it to the place where it was purchased.

A spokesperson for Hilton Foods said the company operates to the “highest standards of health, safety, and hygiene”.

“These are standards that we also expect and demand of all our food suppliers and are verified through our supplier management and audit programme.

“Hilton Foods Danmark A/S has recently identified an issue relating to beef mince packaged in Denmark. Having traced this to an individual site of one of our suppliers, we have suspended all supply of meat from that site. This supplier is undertaking a thorough investigation, and all supply will remain suspended while the investigation remains ongoing.”

Whole genome sequencing of bacteria isolated from patients revealed samples were closely related, and all belonged to sequence type 19.

In 2022, 899 Salmonella cases were recorded in Denmark, which was up from 2021 and 2020 but down from 2019. Salmonella caused 11 outbreaks in 2022, with three of them part of international incidents. 

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