Saturday, November 6, 2010

Italian Company Confirmed Source of French Salmonella Outbreak

Meat processor has USA connection

As reported yesterday by my Guest Blogger, more than 100 college and high school students in the Poitiers area (France) were infected with Salmonella as a result of eating contaminated hamburgers at their schools. The news release issued by the Vienne Préfecture did not identify the type of Salmonella or the origin of the contaminated meat.

Today, courtesy of my French Connections, Albert Amgar and Bernard Pichetto, I am able to provide the Alert issued by the Regional Health Agency of Rhône-Alpes, followed by my translation into English for those who do not read or understand French.
Message d’alerte
à l’attention des établissements
Contamination de steaks surgelés par Salmonella Typhimurium

L’ARS Rhône-Alpes vous informe de la contamination par Salmonella Typhimurium de steaks hachés surgelés fabriqués par l'établissement Inalca en Italie, et distribués en France par POMONA dans différents établissements de restauration collective et commerciale.

Malgré les mesures de retrait élargi conduites par POMONA ce week-end, des personnes ont pu consommer ce produit jusqu'au 29 octobre. Des foyers de toxi-infections alimentaires collectives ont notamment été identifiés en relation avec la consommation de ce produit la semaine passée.

Des établissements ont été identifiés par la Direction générale de l’alimentation (DGAL) parmi les destinataires des lots contaminés (DLUO 23/09/2011).

Dans ce contexte, nous appelons votre attention sur le risque d’apparition de toxi-infection alimentaire collective (Tiac). Les Tiac étant des maladies à déclaration obligatoire, nous vous rappelons la nécessité de les signaler sans délai à votre délégation territoriale de l’ARS.

Nous vous rappelons également l'importance de la mise en place de mesures d'hygiène pour la prévention de la transmission de ce pathogène dans votre établissement.

Nous restons à votre disposition pour toute information complémentaire.

Agence régionale de santé Rhône-Alpes
Délégation territoriale départementale de l’Ain
4 Bd Voltaire
Tél. : 04 74 32 80 76
FAX : 04 74 32 80 69‏

The translation:
Attention: Establishments
Contamination of frozen steak by Salmonella Typhimurium

ARS Rhône-Alpes is informing you that frozen ground steaks produced by Inalca in Italy are contaminated with Salmonella Typhimurium. The meat was distributed in France by POMONA to various catering and commercial food service establishments.

In spite of expanded recall measures conducted by POMONA this weekend, some individuals may have consumed the (contaminated) product even up until October 29th. Food poisoning outbreak clusters were linked last week to the consumption of this product in connection with certain establishments identified by the Food Directorate that were among the recipients of the contaminated lot (lot #DLUO 23/09/2011).

In this context, we draw your attention to the possibility of additional food poisoning outbreak clusters. As food-borne outbreaks are notifiable disease events, we remind you of the need to alert your Regional Health Agency to any incidents without delay. We also remind you of the importance of ensuring that appropriate sanitation and hygiene measures have been implemented to prevent the transmission of this pathogen in your establishment.

We remain at your disposal for any additional information.

Pomona is an importer and distributer of foodstuffs, and has been in business since 1912. The company supplies food service establishments, restaurants and caterers. While the company has, according to the Alert, been engaging in an expanded recall effort, there is no mention of the recall or the health alert on the Pomona web site.

And the US connection?
Inalca, the Italian meat processor that produced the frozen hamburger patties, is a JBS company. According to it's website, "Inalca JBS Spa produces and sells a complete range of vacuum-packed fresh and frozen beef products in a protective atmosphere, ready foods, canned meats and a wide range of by-products. Inalca manages the entire production chain. All plants use modern production technologies and innovative safety systems which allow the company to be at the cutting edge in control methods, production chain programmes and meat identification and labelling processes."

The US operations of JBS have had their own brushes with food-borne pathogens over the years. In 2009, the company's Greeley, Colorado meat processing facility recalled in excess of 41,000 pounds of beef products due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The contaminated meat was blamed for as many as 23 E. coli O157:H7 infections (17 confirmed by genetic profiling) in 9 US states. Twelve of the victims were hospitalized, two with hemolytic uremic syndrome.

A word about transparency
The level of transparency and communication of recalls in France is far below that of the United States, Canada, Denmark, Australia and many other developed countries. A recall of this significance – especially one that is associated with one or more disease outbreak clusters – would, in the United States, be posted on the USDA (meat or poultry) or FDA (other foods) web sites, and would be publicized in the media. As of today (November 6th), there is no mention of this Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak or the associated meat recall on the French Ministry of Health web sites.

It should not be left to bloggers to alert consumers to this important public health information.

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