Chicken meat from Brazil is being investigated as a source of Salmonella disease in the Netherlands.
Between late 2019 and mid-February 2020, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) identified a group of six Salmonella Virchow infections that were distributed throughout the country using sequenced whole genomes (WGS) but no epidemiological relationships between them were reported. .
Outbreak investigations by the RIVM and the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) identified six food isolates that were genetically closely related to cases and were related to the source of infection.
This isolate is derived from poultry, including frozen poultry imported from Brazil. Core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST) shows five isolates were obtained in 2019 and one from Brazil in 2018. The origin and distribution of five other poultry meat isolates is unclear but is thought to be in the Netherlands. An NVWA spokesman said the source investigation was ongoing.
The International Food Safety Authority Network (INFOSAN) has been involved since mid-March through the portal Food Standards for Food and Feed System (RASFF) and was also informed that Brazilian authorities were aware of the outbreak and investigated with producers.
“In April, the INFOSAN Secretariat was involved with INFOSAN Emergency Contact Point (ECP) in Brazil to seek further details to help assess the risk of this food safety incident, specifically to determine whether the products involved were frozen ready to eat (RTE) or chicken meat products that were cooked beforehand. The ECP in Brazil has confirmed that they are investigating the incident and will share the requested information with us as soon as it is available, “said Peter Karim Ben Embarek.
“Based on this information, we will determine whether there is a need for us to seek further details with the Netherlands regarding the results of their investigations and Brazil for any potential international distribution of the products involved. We are usually not involved when the products involved are raw animal meat products, because in principle these products should not be consumed raw. “
According to information on the RASFF portal, frozen chicken from Brazil comes through Austria and is also distributed to Spain.
In 2018, the European Commission stopped certain factories from BRF S.A. and SHB S.A. in Brazil from importing poultry meat to Europe. This regulation still applies.
Since March 2017, member states have informed the Commission, through the RASFF, of a number of non-compliance with Salmonella in poultry meat originating from several locations in Brazil. In March 2018, according to Brazilian authorities, fraud cases in the country regarding laboratory certification for meat products exported to Europe were discovered.
The issue of EU restrictions on poultry meat from Brazil because Salmonella has been raised at least four times since 2017 at a meeting of the World Trade Organization.
Salmonella prevalence in poultry meat shipments from Brazil at the EU border is close to 8 percent in 2017. The last level was calculated in November 2019 and 3.8 percent from 9,968 samples from March 2017 to November 2019, but there is no information about the strain. available.
A poultry meat audit in May 2017 by European Union officials in Brazil identified critical problems and led to a strong check and suspension of the list of new companies for export. In January 2018, a follow-up audit identified progress but made further recommendations.
Another public poultry meat health audit is planned for 2019 but is postponed until 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, it is not clear when it will take place. The Commission also plans an animal health audit of poultry originating from Brazil in 2020 but it faces the same planning difficulties.
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