An outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis ST11 in Europe that has resulted in two deaths, 25 hospitalizations, and at least 272 illnesses, has been traced back to eggs from Spain, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (ESFA).
The first known infection occurred on September 2, 2021, in France, and by January 11, 2022, more than 270 confirmed cases were reported in six European countries, including Spain, the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark.
“Some cases reported in France in 2021 had visited restaurants serving eggs distributed by a common supplier, Spanish Packing Centre A,” the ESFA said in a report detailing the outbreak. The eggs originated from three Spanish farms, one testing positive for the outbreak strain, the report stated. Fresh table eggs from the farms linked to the outbreak were withdrawn from the consumer market and redirected for use in heat-treated egg products.
It’s believed that no other countries received eggs from these farms; however, the outbreak is connected microbiologically to a historical cross-border outbreak reported by the Netherlands in 2019, the report continued. “Eggs consumed by cases in the Dutch outbreak were traced back to a Spanish farm, but it was not possible to identify an epidemiological link with the 2021 outbreak,” the report stated, adding that this suggests a wide distribution of the outbreak strain that could affect products across the food supply chain. There may be multiple heterogeneous sources of S. Enteritidis ST11, and the outbreak strain could also be circulating at other farms, inside and outside of Spain.
ESFA warned that the risk of new infections resulting from eggs contaminated with the Salmonella outbreak strain remains high in the European Union, so it’s vital to foster cross-sectoral investigations of new cases linked to the egg supply chain in countries where S. Enteritidis ST11 has been detected.
The report also states that there is a strong indication that Salmonella is still spreading across Europe, possibly circulating through farms both inside and outside of Spain, so EFSA’s investigation will continue until a definitive source of the contamination has been identified.