UK: Fresh basil linked to
Source of Article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3513880/Fresh-basil-linked-to-salmonella-cases.html
Contaminated packets of
ready-to-eat herbs, such as basil, could be causing outbreaks of salmonella, UK scientists
By Rebecca Smith, Medical
Last Updated: 6:10PM GMT 24 Nov 2008
Samples of herbs were found to
be contamined with salmonella and have been linked
to outbreaks of the bug that causes severe stomach upsets in the UK.
Basil grown in Israel is thought to have been the cause of 32
cases of salmonella in people in England
last year, Government scientists said.
The Health Protection Agency
and the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of
Regulatory Services sampled 3,760 packets of fresh ready to eat herbs between
May and October last year and found a small proportion were contaminated with
unsafe levels of Salmonella Senftenberg which can
cause diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and
Director of the Health Protection Agency's Food, Water & Environmental
Microbiology Services, said: "Our survey found six herb types to be
contaminated with ten different types of salmonella. The basil samples that
were found to be contaminated with S. Senftenberg
were all grown in Israel.
at the time of these samples testing positive identified thirty-two human
cases of S. Senftenberg in individuals throughout England and Wales, and it is likely that
these cases were linked to consumption of fresh basil.
of salmonella in ready-to-eat foods such as fresh herbs is unacceptable, and
in each case the retailer and the Food Standards Agency were
immediately informed and action was taken to prevent the risk of people
"There are two important
measures that can be taken to protect the public from becoming ill as a
result of consuming herbs.
"The first is in the
growing process where careful steps should be taken to control potential
points of contamination. The second is that consumers can also wash their
herbs, particuarly if they are to consume them
without further cooking, so as to minimise the risk
that their herbs aren't contaminated with any bacteria."
Salmonella lives in the gut of
animals and occasionally humans and is usually spread by through eating
undercooked food, or cross-contamination in the
kitchen from raw foods to cooked foods or hands.
There are around 15,000 cases
of salmonella reported in the UK
each year and Salmonella Senftenberg is a
relatively uncommon strain.