Officials kept yet another food scandal secret

Up to 130 people, including a three-year-old boy, may have gotten ill from salmonella in ground beef in an outbreak that was kept hidden from the public until now.

Officials kept yet another food scandal secret
Tainted beef was sold over the summer, but no one is saying where. Photo: Colourbox
Metroxpress obtained access to documents that reveal that ground beef infected with multi resistant salmonella was sold by the Vejen-based food company Skare in June. 
Skare delivered the beef to stores on June 13th but did not recall it as required by law when an analysis the following day found the presence of salmonella. 
According to the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI), 19 people, including the three-year-old, reported being ill just days later. Beyond the 19 registered cases, SSI estimates that up to 130 people may have been sickened by the tainted meat. 
“Six of the 19 were so sick that they were hospitalised,” SSI’s Kåre Mølbak told Metroxpress. 
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestrylsen) first traced the infection to Skare a full 40 days after the meat was sent to stores, but the food authorities did not require a recall. 
Neither Skare or Fødevarestrylsen will tell consumers where the meat was sold.
“This is confidential information, the release of which would cause considerable economic harm to the company,” Fødevarestrylsen wrote, according to Metroxpress.
Food safety expert Orla Zinck called the authorities’ decision “a scandal of unimaginable proportions”.
“Fødevarestrylsen’s acts are a danger to consumers’ health when it, out of consideration for Skare’s revenues, fails to recall dangerous meat and on top of that hides where it was sold,” Zinck told Metroxpress. 
Fødevarestrylsen has also faced criticism for its slow reaction to a listeria outbreak that has caused 16 deaths. 

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Rare salmonella poisoning hits at least 23 in Denmark

Experts in Denmark are trying to locate the source of a salmonella outbreak that has resulted in 23 people being taken ill.

Rare salmonella poisoning hits at least 23 in Denmark
File photo: Simon Knudsen / Nf-Nf / Ritzau Scanpix

The bacteria in question is a rare form known as Salmonella Coeln, but the source is so far unknown.

People across the country have been affected by the outbreak, with a total of 13 women and 10 men so far confirmed ill, with half of those hospitalized after being infected, Ritzau reported on Tuesday afternoon.

“This is a (bacteria) type we don’t often see, maybe two to five cases yearly. So when 23 cases show up in one month, that’s an unusual situation,” said senior researcher Steen Ethelberg of the SSI disease research institute in Copenhagen.

The actual number of people to have been infected is likely to be higher than 23, Ethelberg added.

“We only register the sickest: people who go to the doctor and test positive for salmonella. We normally say there are 10 times as many who we don’t know about,” the researcher said.

SSI is now working together with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) and the Technical University of Denmark’s National Food Institute to find the source of the bacterial outbreak.

“We are interviewing the sick and asking where they have been and what they have eaten. We’re usually able to find a pattern. But with this outbreak, it’s not yet been possible to find a common factor, so we’re continuing the investigation,” Ethelberg said.

The affected individuals had not been abroad immediately prior to being taken ill, are located in different parts of the country, do not know each other and have not taken part in any common event.

That makes it likely that a widely-distributed food product is the cause of the outbreak.

Salmonella Coeln was described by Ethelberg as neither better nor worse than other types.

“You don’t get more sick from Salmonella Coeln than with other types of Salmonella,” he said.

Symptoms of infection by the bacteria include diarrhoea, stomach pains, fever, headache and possibly nausea and sickness. Illness can last from a few days to several weeks.

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