by BFFF
Dec 7th, 2023
6 mins
BFFF

Members may have seen recent reports in the media informing that the FSA and UKHSA are investigating multiple strains of Salmonella linked to poultry products imported to the UK from Poland. There have been six outbreaks investigated this year since April linked to Polish poultry and egg products.

You will recall that, following a spike of human cases in the UK in 2020, an escalated outbreak response was triggered by PHE at the time, and FSA escalated the incident to non-routine in response to enhanced food safety concern. Extensive epidemiological, microbiological and food chain investigations were undertaken that established the two major outbreaks were linked to frozen, breaded chicken meat products, predominantly supplied by two businesses in Poland.

Between 2021 to 2023, the FSA have been notified of over 90 incidents relating to Salmonella contamination in Polish poultry products (mostly reported via RASFF). All these notifications required food safety interventions such as product withdrawals and/or product recalls at a significant burden to the UK regulatory authorities and the food industry. Different to 2020/2021, the incidents are more recently linked to chilled poultry products, as opposed to frozen breaded reformulated chicken.

In light of recent evidence of enhanced public health impact linked to poultry meat and egg products imported from Poland, a further emergency response has been stood up by the FSA, working with other Government departments. The response includes exploring what action to take to ensure the safety of poultry and eggs imported from Poland.

Advice to local authorities and consumers on actions that can be taken to reduce the ongoing risk has been issued.

Local authorities have been asked to pay increased attention to businesses importing products of animal origin (POAO), (mainly poultry meat and egg products) from Poland, and those businesses handling these products at catering, retail, or wholesale. During routine inspections, local authorities are requested to ensure businesses are aware of the risks and that they have reflected these within their food safety management systems.

Regarding eggs from Poland, epidemiological and food chain investigations undertaken in response to outbreaks linked to eggs from Poland identified food service is the most likely cause of infection. Therefore, they have also been asked to remind food service businesses of risks associated with eggs from Poland and the importance of observing good hygiene practices at all times to ensure products containing eggs are safe.

You can read the advice to consumers here which reminds them of the importance of good hygiene and thorough cooking when storing, handling, and preparing poultry meat. There is no planned change to the FSA’s usual advice for consumers based on risks associated with eggs, because the solution to reducing risks arising from consumption of eggs is largely in the food service businesses opposed to retail.

The FSA continue to update industry trade bodies including ourselves and have asked that our members be vigilant, seek food safety assurances from suppliers and make sure your food safety control systems reflect and manage these risks. We will keep you updated as and when the situation develops but, in the meantime, please let us know should you have any questions, and we will do our best to assist.

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