UK – The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the United Kingdom has shared alarming information about the rising cases of Salmonella in poultry meat and eggs originating from Poland.

With 200 reported cases of salmonellosis this year linked to such products, the FSA has conducted investigations into over 90 incidents in the past two years, uncovering two outbreaks linked to eggs and three to poultry meat from Poland in 2023 alone.

In 2022, 190 Salmonella notifications on the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) pertained to poultry meat products from Poland, Food Safety News reports.

While control measures were strengthened in 2021 after outbreaks in 2020, recent investigations by UKHSA have uncovered six outbreaks in 2023 linked to chilled poultry and egg products from Poland.

Chicken meat products are implicated in a multi-country outbreak involving three types of Salmonella enteritidis.

Traceability data primarily points to producers in Poland, although no microbiological evidence of contamination at their facilities has been identified. Between January and October 2023, 14 EU countries, the UK, and the U.S. reported a total of 335 cases associated with this outbreak.

The FSA, along with Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), has urged consumers to exercise caution when handling and cooking chicken, turkey, and duck products at home. Notably, catering sites heavily rely on imported eggs, amplifying the potential risk.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the repeated occurrences, Emily Miles, FSA Chief Executive, and Christine Middlemiss, Chief Veterinary Officer, have written a letter to the European Commission and the Chief Veterinary Officer in Poland.

They highlighted the surge in cases associated with Polish poultry and eggs, sharing information on the number of establishments involved with Polish authorities.

“Each time we have detected a specific food safety concern we have acted promptly to keep consumers safe, but we are unhappy about the repeated occurrences,” said Miles.

In response to the escalating problem, an incident management group has been established to coordinate efforts across government departments, including Defra and UKHSA. This aims to shift from a case-by-case response to a more comprehensive strategy.

The British Poultry Council (BPC) has called for stringent controls, urging authorities to check every load from Poland and reject those failing to meet requirements.

Richard Griffiths, BPC Chief Executive, expressed disappointment that Poland is exporting hygiene problems rather than addressing them.

The UK Office for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Trade Assurance is set to conduct an audit of Poland in April 2024 to evaluate the controls in place.

In November, discussions on improving cooperation and information sharing on food safety incidents were requested under the EU/UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement, with talks expected to take place in early 2024.

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