Joe Whitworth writing in Food Safety News reports that the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) has been involved since mid-March in investigating chicken meat from Brazil as the source of Salmonella illnesses in the Netherlands.
FairPlay has consistently raised concerns about food safety issues in imported chicken and last December called for a ban on chicken imports from Brazil.
Whitworth reports that between the end of 2019 and mid-February 2020, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands identified a cluster of six Salmonella Virchow infections distributed across the country using whole genome sequencing (WGS) but no epidemiological link among them was reported.
An outbreak investigation by RIVM and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) identified six food isolates as genetically closely related to cases and associated with the source of the infection.
These isolates came from poultry meat, including frozen poultry imported from Brazil. According to information on the INFOSAN portal, frozen chicken meat from Brazil came via Austria and was also distributed to Spain.
In 2018, the European Commission stopped certain plants of BRF S.A. and SHB S.A. in Brazil from importing poultry meat into Europe. This regulation is still in force. The issue of EU restrictions on poultry meat from Brazil due to Salmonella has been raised at least four times since 2017 at meetings of the World Trade Organization.
FairPlay has called for stronger labeling requirements for imported chicken in conjunction with inadequate inspections at ports. Without these measures, unsafe chicken meat can find its way onto our market and put the health of consumers at serious risk.