Authorities in Saudi Arabia have blamed contaminated mayonnaise for causing an outbreak of botulism.

The Ministry of Municipal Rural Affairs and Housing provided an update over the weekend on the recent illnesses at the Hamburgini restaurant chain in Riyadh.

The Ministry of Health revealed 75 cases were identified, including 69 citizens and six residents, and one person died. As of early May, 50 cases had been diagnosed with Clostridium Botulinum. Of these, 43 had recovered and left the hospital, 11 were hospitalized, and 20 patients were monitored in intensive care units.

According to the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), laboratory tests found the presence of Clostridium Botulinum in a sample of BON TUM mayonnaise served at the restaurant.

The presence of Clostridium Botulinum has also been confirmed after checks at one of the factories.

Distribution of BON TUM mayonnaise has been halted and withdrawn from the market and food establishments in all cities of the country. All remaining stock is to be destroyed. The production factory has also been suspended, and legal procedures are pending, said the Ministry of Municipal Rural Affairs and Housing.

Customers of the factory, including restaurants and food establishments, have been told to dispose of any of the implicated products.

Officials said they would continue monitoring, investigation, and inspection campaigns to ensure the safety of food offered to the public.

In 2022, 176 outbreaks were recorded, with 1,188 cases, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

Botulinum poisoning is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. However, they can occur as soon as six hours or up to 10 days later.

Symptoms may include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing or breathing, paralysis — particularly of muscles used for breathing — a thick-feeling tongue, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

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