Multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis in chicken meat and chicken meat products
Between January and October 2023, 14 EU/EEA countries, the UK and the US reported 335 cases related to this outbreak. Chicken meat and chicken meat products (kebab) are the likely source of a multi-country outbreak caused by three types of Salmonella Enteritidis, according to EFSA and ECDC’s latest Rapid Outbreak Assessment.
Bacteria similar to those causing the outbreak have been detected in samples of chicken meat and chicken kebab. While food traceability data points to producers located in Poland (7 producers) and Austria (1 producer), no microbiological evidence of a contamination at their facilities has been found.
Scientists expect that new cases are likely to occur in this multi-country outbreak as the source has not yet been identified. EFSA and ECDC experts recommend further investigations to identify the potential locations within the chicken meat production chain where the contamination may have occurred.
Following the food exposure information and the national investigations in 2023, the food safety authorities in Austria, Denmark and Italy investigated 10 food products (six contaminated by Salmonella Enteritidis ST11 cluster 1 and/or cluster 2), seven final producers in Poland and one in Austria. Traceability information revealed that three Salmonella-contaminated kebabs shared a number of Polish food business operators. The trading link of the suspected kebab suggests one or more common source(s)/point(s) of contamination in Austria, Denmark, and Italy.
Following the collection of genomic information, the cluster analysis revealed the presence of the outbreak strains in the food chain in multiple European countries. Most positive foods sampled in 2022–2023 with shared epidemiological data originated from Poland.
Given the information collected, contaminated chicken kebab and chicken meat are the plausible vehicles of the human infections reported in these three clusters. In the absence of conclusive microbiological evidence and comprehensive traceability, the role of the identified final producers, their meat suppliers, and the possible involvement of other food business operators as sources of the infections could not be confirmed or excluded.
Further investigations are needed to identify the root cause of the contamination and the source of infections, which is crucial for prompt implementation of targeted effective control and corrective measures. As the source(s) have not been identified, new cases are likely to occur in this prolonged multi-country outbreak.
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