FINLAND – A recent investigation has labeled frozen tomato cubes as the culprit behind a 2021 Salmonella typhimurium outbreak in Finland.

The implicated strain had not previously been found in Finland, and it is believed to be the first outbreak in the nation associated with a frozen tomato product.

According to the study report printed in the journal Eurosurveillance, a number of customers at a restaurant in Western Finland in late January 2021 experienced symptoms after meals.

44 people with outbreak-related conditions were reported to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The local epidemic investigation team enlisted THL and the Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto) for assistance with the epidemiological and microbiological studies.

The study involved 101 participants who consumed 142 of the 393 sold meals. Over a three-day period, exposure occurred in one establishment.

There were 49 individuals; 23 had multidrug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium infections that were confirmed in the lab. Patients ranged in age from 16 to 77, with men affected more frequently than women.

There were no fatalities despite the hospitalization of two individuals, one of whom had a positive blood culture for Salmonella. Salmonella was detected in two staff members who had no symptoms.

Fluoroquinolones were among the antibiotics that the outbreak strain proved resistant to.

According to a local environmental health agency that inspected the eatery in early February 2021, most of the food was purchased from a single wholesaler.

A nearby grocery store was occasionally used for purchases. During the visit, there was an ongoing renovation, reports Food Safety News.

Meals served in the buffet were cooked in the morning on the day of serving, and they were placed next to each other.

The agency suggested that the establishment step up cleanliness.

It was requested to switch out the cloth towels in the staff washroom for paper towels, and it was suggested that food samples be frozen going forward.

Tomato cubes from various batches were examined because there were no more samples of the salads including frozen tomato cubes for analysis.

Salmonella was found in one of the two samples obtained from the neighborhood wholesaler in February. However, researchers were unable to identify the source of the contamination.

Patients’ isolates of Salmonella Typhimurium and frozen tomato cubes that were served raw in two distinct salads had a lot in common.

There was a close connection between patient-derived isolates of Salmonella Typhimurium and frozen tomato cubes that were utilized raw in two distinct salads.

Seventy-five percent of the patients ate these salads which are not directly sold to customers.

When the producer didn’t change the labeling, the wholesaler issued a withdrawal and halted sales of the item.

Finland has no governmental recommendations for how to prepare frozen tomato products. Following an inquiry into the epidemic, the company made the decision to suggest cooking such products before consumption.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.