UK Salmonella pork scratching outbreak sickens 500

UK Salmonella pork scratching outbreak sickens 500

by Sue Jones
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More than 500 people in the United Kingdom have been affected by a Salmonella outbreak linked to pork scratching products.

There were 534 sick people as of late October with the majority falling ill since June. The first patient was in September 2020 and the peak was 80 cases reported in one week.

Slightly more than half are male with an age range of 0 to 92 years old and a median of 54. A dozen were admitted to hospital but this information is only available for 35 people. The majority of those sick are in England but some patients live in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Whole genome sequencing identified the genetically similar Salmonella Infantis cases. It is thought to be the largest outbreak of this Salmonella type ever reported in Europe.

Cases despite recall
In late August, the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland advised consumers not to eat several pork scratching products purchased since February, which were linked to Salmonella poisoning. At that time, the agencies reported 179 people were sick.

Tayto Group’s recall included some Mr. Porky, Jay’s and The Real Pork Crackling Company products. Production was halted at the implicated factory once a possible link was identified. Cases have reduced but continue to be reported despite the product recall. Items have best before dates up to and including Feb. 19, 2022.

Microbiological investigations identified isolates matching the outbreak strain at the production site and in an unopened product from the day of inspection.

Tayto Group, who also distributes to the EU and other countries, voluntarily suspended production and withdrew and recalled products as well as doing enhanced cleaning and microbiological testing.

The original cause of contamination has not been determined with FSA traceback work including looking at pork rind supplied from three countries.

Affected people seek answers
Earlier this month, law firm Irwin Mitchell said it was working on behalf of eight people who believe they fell ill after eating Mr Porky products.

These include a man from Malton, North Yorkshire, who was hospitalized and diagnosed with Salmonella Infantis after eating pork scratchings, and a retired elite swimmer from Merseyside.

A woman is also still suffering from the effects of salmonellosis. Susan Williamson, from Blackhall Colliery, was taken to hospital and diagnosed with Salmonella Infantis infection. The 64-year-old had eaten pork scratchings. After undergoing further tests she was diagnosed with heart failure and wants to find out if this is linked to the Salmonella infection. Doctors told her she will need ongoing care and a procedure on her heart.

Williamson said when she fell ill after eating the pork scratchings she thought it would only make her sick for a few days.

“Never did I ever imagine that it would lead to Salmonella and I would still be suffering more than two months on. I’m still very unwell now and have been told I’ll need medical care for a long time. It’s been such a traumatic time for me and my family,” she said.

“It’s also very worrying to think that there could be more people out there suffering like I am, and we deserve to have some answers as to how this happened. I know an investigation can’t change what I’m going through, but at the very least it can hopefully help prevent it happening to others in the future.”

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