PLUS: Canada investigates Hepatitis A outbreak from berries

More than 150 sick in Australian Salmonella outbreak

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Raw mung bean sprouts. Picture: sommail/Istock
Raw mung bean sprouts. Picture: sommail/Istock

Related tags: Mung bean

A Salmonella outbreak which has sickened more than 150 people in Australia has been linked to raw mung bean sprouts.

SA Health said in less than two weeks there had been 108 Salmonella Saintpaul illnesses reported.

The Northern Territory Department of Health said in the last two weeks there had been more than 50 cases of infection in Darwin with 12 people being hospitalised. 

Warning not to eat raw bean sprouts

SA Health has warned South Australians not to eat raw bean sprouts.

Since the start of December, the agency said it had been notified of 233 cases and 43 people have been hospitalised.

South Australia usually sees around 15 to 20 cases each year. Last year there was 1,272 cases of Salmonella (of all types) notified to SA Health.

Professor Paddy Phillips, chief public health officer, SA Health, said over the past few weeks it has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Salmonella Saintpaul notifications.

“Our investigations have indicated to us that it is likely that the consumption of raw bean sprouts is contributing to this increase,” ​he said.

“As a result we are today advising South Australians to cook all bean sprouts and avoid eating raw bean sprouts.

“We also want to alert food retailers such as restaurants and cafes not to serve raw bean sprouts until further notice. We are working closely with the producers, suppliers and handlers of the sprouts and are continuing to investigate.”

The Northern Territory Department of Health also warned Territorians not to eat raw mung bean sprouts following the increase in Salmonella infection in Darwin.

Dr Peter Markey, acting director of the Centre for Disease Control, said the Saintpaul strain had been detected in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

“The type of Salmonella bacteria which has been increasing here in Darwin is the same as that causing the increase in cases in South Australia,” ​he said.

 “So it is wise for Territory health authorities to give the same health warning advice as has occurred in South Australia about not eating raw mung beans.  

"Territorians should therefore cook all bean sprouts and avoid eating raw bean sprouts. We also want to alert food retailers like restaurants, cafes and market food vendors not to serve raw bean sprouts until further notice.”

Hepatitis A outbreak in Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is investigating an outbreak of Hepatitis A infections in three provinces linked to Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend.

nature's touch hep a
Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend

Eleven cases have been reported in Ontario (8), Quebec (2), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1).

Individuals became sick in February and March. The majority reported eating the recalled product and four have been hospitalized.

The number of cases has decreased since the previous update (from 13) due to laboratory evidence.

The frozen fruit product is sold exclusively at Costco warehouses in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Vaccination can prevent the onset of symptoms if given within two weeks of exposure, said PHAC.

Hepatitis A can cause inflammation of the liver. The disease can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said the product has best before dates up to and including 2018 MR 15.

Costco Canada said some locations provided free food samples of the recalled product.

It will offer a hepatitis A vaccine, but supply and capacity is limited and advised consumers to visit a local Costco Pharmacy for more information on vaccine availability.

The recalled product was sold by Costco locations in Eastern Canada between December 11, 2015 and April 15.

End of Salmonella investigation

Meanwhile, the outbreak of Salmonella Virchow linked to Garden of Life RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products has ended.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the outbreak investigation is over but the recalled products have a long shelf life and may still be in people's homes.

A total of 33 people were infected with the outbreak strain from 23 states. Six were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

Among people for whom information was available, illness dates ranged from December 5, 2015 to March 18, 2016.

Garden of Life identified the likely source of contamination (moringa leaf powder) and removed the ingredient from future batches.

The firm has since changed the name of its shake and meal replacement powder, RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal, to Raw Organic Meal, and given it a new look.

Related topics: Markets, Oceania, Food safety

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