From

August 24, 2008

Ireland; Doubts persist at factory in salmonella inquiry

Food safety chiefs believe there may be a second source of the bug

Source of Article:  http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article4597270.ece

 

HEALTH authorities are still not satisfied that a production line at Dawn Farm Foods in Kildare, linked to an outbreak of salmonella throughout Europe, is functioning properly.

They also believe there is a second source of the bug, which has left 140 people ill, 10 in Ireland and 70 in England. Last week more cases were found in France and Sweden.

It is thought that the failure of a thermal cooking line in Dawn led to infected bacon, beef and chicken products getting into food products such as Subway sandwiches. The factory is undergoing pharmaceutical cleaning, but tests have to be run to ensure that the thermal line is operating properly before it is re-opened.

“Whether it was a one-off failure and they managed to contaminate the clean side of this factory with this bug, or whether there were intermittent failures, it’s difficult to tell,” said Alan Reilly, deputy chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

“Both ourselves and the Department of Agriculture would have to be satisfied that the measures Dawn have put in place are adequate to ensure that products coming out of that plant are safe.”

Dawn Foods shut down production on August 15 in order to sterilise the plant and expected this would take a week. “That process is well under way,” Dawn said on Friday.

Not all of the people who became ill ate products linked to Dawn, which has prompted food-safety investigators to search for another source of the Salmonella Agona bug. “We are pulling foods from all over,” said Reilly.

The FSAI has also compared peaks in the numbers of outbreaks to possible failure at the Dawn production line. “It doesn’t really tally,” Reilly said. “Dawn sends food out all over Europe, maybe the equivalent of 24m servings over the last three months, but we have 140 people sick. So there’s a lot of food gone out from that plant that’s fine.”

Almost all the cases discovered in Ireland over the last four years came from chicken, which has prompted investigators to check on farms that supply the meat to Dawn. They are also looking at possible environmental sources. The same salmonella bug was isolated in a river in Scotland, and in animal feed in the UK.

While Salmonella Agona’s symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and fever, it is not life-threatening. Serious complications can occur for the young, elderly and pregnant women. The bug is killed by cooking.

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