AUSTRALIA – The Western Australia (WA) Department of Health has linked Qukes brand baby cucumbers supplied by Perfection Fresh, an Australian fresh produce company, to a Salmonella outbreak that has thus far affected 19 people.
Although the grower has not been identified, cucumber production has ceased.
From infants under a year old to seniors in their 60s, there are sick people of all ages. Three children have also been hospitalized.
Patients said they had eaten young cucumbers in the seven days prior to the commencement of their illness.
Although no connected illnesses have been documented, other health agencies around the nation are investigating the problem.
On December 30, WA Health reported that a pack of Qukes baby cucumbers with a best-before date of December 24 that had been purchased from a Perth supermarket on December 23 had been found to contain the outbreak strain of Salmonella typhimurium.
It is understood that the agency’s extra product testing has not turned up any more Salmonella-positive results, reports Food Safety News.
Salmonella tests on 40 products from manufacturing facilities, according to Perfection Fresh, came back negative.
Testing retention samples from the same batch with a best-before date of December 24 was part of this process.
“We commenced an immediate and thorough investigation to try and identify any potential sources of contamination that may have compromised baby cucumbers.
“Initial investigations into current systems and practices on our production sites did not identify any potential sources of contamination,” said Andrew Redman, Chief Technical Officer, Perfection Fresh.
The company’s food safety and quality teams have scrutinized current procedures to ensure that the proper systems are in place and have increased routine product and environmental testing for Salmonella.
“As a precautionary measure, we have implemented increased sanitation measures and comprehensive testing of baby cucumbers to reassure consumers that baby cucumbers remain a safe, delicious, and nutritious product to eat.
“In all testing, we have undertaken since this issue emerged we have not been able to detect Salmonella in any sample or within our facility. We will continue with comprehensive testing of all baby cucumbers for the foreseeable future to ensure the safety of our consumers,” said Redman.
As of December 21st, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) had registered 72 sick people with 24 hospitalizations.
In Sweden, 31 people were affected, according to the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten) whereas the Netherlands had six confirmed and two probable cases.