The withdrawal and/or recall of infant formula produced by a single French processing company will significantly reduce the risk of more infants being infected by Salmonella Agona, say EFSA and ECDC as a result of a rapid outbreak assessment.
An outbreak of S. Agona linked to the consumption of infant formula has been ongoing in France since August 2017. So far the outbreak has affected 37 children under one year of age in France. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis confirmed that a Spanish case is closely related to the outbreak in France. A probable case has been identified in Greece. The last case was notified on 2 December 2017.
EFSA and ECDC recommend that competent authorities in affected Member States keep sharing information on the epidemiological, microbiological and environmental investigations and issue relevant notifications in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and the Early Warning Response System (EWRS).
To prevent infections using infant formulas, both in infants and caregivers, Member States should consider providing advice to the public regarding:
- Not to use any of the infant formulas involved in this outbreak;
- Hand washing before and after the preparation of the bottle;
- Bottles should not be prepared in advance and the contents should be discarded if not consumed within two hours.
What is a rapid outbreak assessment?
In case of multi-country foodborne outbreaks coordination at EU level is important. A Rapid Outbreak Assessment is jointly prepared by EFSA and ECDC in close cooperation with affected countries. The ROA gives an overview of the situation in terms of public health and identifies the contaminated food vehicle that caused the infections. It also includes trace-back and trace-forward investigations to identify the origin of the outbreak and where contaminated products have been distributed. This is crucial to identify the relevant control measures in order to prevent further spread of the outbreak.