Salmonella fears halt production at Kildare meat plant



Saturday, August 16, 2008

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A CO KILDARE meat plant which is possibly linked to a salmonella outbreak in Ireland, Britain and Finland has temporarily halted production.

Dawn Farm Foods said it was stopping meat production at its plant in Naas to carry out a “pharmaceutical grade cleandown” of the entire plant.

The plant will resume production after the cleaning, but the production line identified as the possible cause of the outbreak will not be reopened.

Up to 119 people in Ireland, Britain and Finland have been infected by the salmonella agona outbreak, which may be caused by contaminated meat products made at the Naas plant. A 77-year-old British woman has died from complications thought to be associated with the outbreak.

The bug can cause serious illness including diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever.

In a statement yesterday Dawn Farm Foods said the possible link to the outbreak was associated with one specific production line which was immediately closed after the company was notified by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Shipping of all associated products was stopped and the decommissioned line would not reopen until the final results of the investigation into the outbreak have been made known.

The company said the entire plant would now be subject to a pharmaceutical grade cleandown.

“The company has taken this measure as an additional safeguard to reassure its business customers and the public as to the safety of its products. Dawn Farm Foods has engaged the services of a specialist bio-activation technology company normally utilised in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sectors, to carry out this process.”

The cleandown will ensure that the factory is clear of any potential environmental contaminants, the statement said.

“This is the first incident of its kind for Dawn Farm Foods in its 25 years in operation and Dawn Farms is working closely with the authorities and international experts to ensure that every necessary step is taken and all efforts are made to protect consumer health and maintain customer confidence,” it added.

The company said the health and safety of consumers was paramount and it was taking every possible step to bring the matter to a conclusion.

The European Centre for Disease Control this week issued a Europe-wide public health alert in relation to the outbreak, which was first identified at the beginning of August.

The centre has confirmed that 14 people across Europe have been hospitalised due to the outbreak. Four people in the Republic have required hospital treatment.

The outbreak has prompted the withdrawal of beef strips, chicken, lamb and pork supplied to at least eight European countries and to Kuwait. Dawn Farm Foods voluntarily withdrew the food products after the genetic fingerprint of salmonella agona was linked to a particular production line at its Naas plant.

Last Wednesday the food safety authority said additional products had been identified that could be implicated as a source of the outbreak.

One product in particular had been incorporated into a number of branded retail packs of chicken and bacon sandwich filler tubs which had been sold through national retail chains. These products had been withdrawn by the retailers.



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