The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have published a report warning of an outbreak of salmonella that has so far affected 272 people in six countries since September 2021.
Twenty-five people have been hospitalised as a result and two people have died.
Most cases have been registered in fast-food restaurants in southern France (216), but also in Spain (22), the United Kingdom (12), the Netherlands (12), Norway (7) and Denmark (3).
They all have the same supplier, ‘Spanish Packing Centre A’, which distributes eggs from Spanish farms along with other animal products to the European countries mentioned.
According to the report, three Spanish farms are responsible for these outbreaks of the Salmonella Enteritidis strain.
It also establishes microbiological connections between the current salmonella outbreak and one that occurred in 2019 in the Netherlands, which was also traced back to Spain.
THE ECDC has warned that the risk of new infections due to affected batches of eggs remains high in the European Union and encourages member states to carry out investigations to detect possible contamination in their food chains.
Despite these warnings, the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (Aesan) has not issued any alert about this outbreak for consumers in Spain.
Spain’s mass production farms have been making headlines recently since the country’s Consumer Affairs Minister told The Guardian they were damaging the environment and producing poor-quality produce.
There have also been six reported outbreaks of bird flu at chicken farms in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia in recent weeks affecting tens of thousands of birds.
In January, the regional governments of Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón, Cataluña and Navarra agreed to prohibit or limit the construction of new intensive livestock farms in their territories.
Most people with a salmonella infection don’t experience symptoms but those who do can have diarrhoea, fever and stomach cramps, with symptoms usually beginning six hours to six days after infection and lasting four to seven days.
The inside of eggs that appear normal can contain the salmonella germ that can make you sick, especially if you eat raw or partially cooked eggs.
Salmonella is rarely fatal but if the virus enters the bloodstream it can be life-threatening, especially among people with weakened immune systems.
To reduce the chances of getting salmonella, keep eggs refrigerated and only buy eggs from stores that keep them refrigerated, discard cracked or dirty eggs and ensure that food products that contain raw or lightly cooked eggs such as mayonnaise or tiramisu are made only with pasteurised eggs and aren’t kept for long out of the fridge.
Foul-smelling or cracked eggs should also be avoided, and a trick recommended by Spanish consumer watchdog OCU to find out if an egg is not fit for eating is to put it in a glass of water. If it sinks, it’s okay to consume but if it floats it isn’t.