Imported meat linked to Salmonella outbreak in Norway

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Norwegian officials have traced the source of a Salmonella outbreak to meat from Germany.

Salmonella Enteritidis with the same genetic profile as the outbreak strain has been detected in a batch of beef imported from Germany. This batch has been withdrawn from the market. It has been used in the production of ground (minced) meat and at the same plant as burgers.

Folkehelseinstituttet (the Norwegian Institute of Public Health) previously reported 20 people were sick.

Now it is known 22 people fell ill and 19 are confirmed to have been infected with the outbreak strain. For three people, confirmation is pending but preliminary analyzes indicate they belong to the outbreak.

Matching product and patient samples
Those sick are aged from 11 to 91 years old and almost two thirds are women. Ten people have been hospitalized. Samples were taken from the end of January through the end of February.

Patients are geographically spread over large parts of Norway. Eleven infected people live in Viken, three in Oslo, two in Innlandet, and one each in Vestfold og Telemark, Agder, Rogaland, Vestland, Møre og Romsdal and Nordland.

Several patients mentioned ground meat, which officials believe was produced with raw materials from the affected batch.

An outbreak investigation is ongoing involving the industry, relevant local health units, the Veterinary Institute and Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet).

A Salmonella positive sample came from importer Prima Jæren. It was taken at the end of January this year and was done by the company.

The Veterinary Institute identified the type of Salmonella through whole genome sequencing. Folkehelseinstituttet has analyzed samples from infected people and found the bacteria are identical and originate from the same source.

Product recall
NorgesGruppen has recalled minced (ground) meat and burgers with certain expiry dates. The items were supplied by Norfersk and have Folkets, Meny, Spar or Kiwi on the label. All are out of date, with dates ranging from Feb. 7 to 9, but people could still have them at home in their freezers. Consumers are encouraged to throw them away or take products back to the store.

All burgers use Norwegian raw materials, but are included in the recall because of production on the same line as the imported raw material.

Some of the affected batch has also been sold to other companies and Mattilsynet is still trying to trace it all.

Every year, between 900 and 1,300 cases of salmonellosis are reported to Folkehelseinstituttet with most people infected abroad.

A preliminary analysis indicates no link between this outbreak and one of Salmonella Enteritidis that has affected 25 people across 14 regions in southern and central Sweden from the end of this past year.

Almost three quarters of those sick are children under 10 years of age and four patients are over 70 years old. Investigations are ongoing to identify the source.

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