Yersinia pseudotuberculosis – update 13 October 2014

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Ministry for Primary Industries Deputy Director General Regulation and Assurance Scott Gallacher said today food safety and the health of consumers is MPI’s highest priority.

“We are doing all we can to locate what caused this outbreak of Yersinia pseudotubercolosis.

“We are getting a lot of information, building a picture and investigating many avenues. This information is preliminary and far from conclusive at this stage.

“It is not a simple situation where we can recall a single product. It is not definitively linked to any one supermarket chain. The ESR working documents have provided useful pointers for continuing investigation.

“MPI, Ministry of Health, Environmental Science and Research and public health staff have been working hard to identify the source of the outbreak to ensure that whatever caused it can be dealt with.

“MPI has been checking with major food suppliers to ensure the food handling practices are meeting the required standard.

“Comments in the media have indicated that specific products are implicated in the incident. People were surveyed to ask about their recollection of certain brands, but were not asked about all brands. A specific product was recalled by 8 from the 96 people. In other cases, people recalled a brand that included several individual products.

“While 87 (of 96) people affected by the illness purchased lettuce, yet only 17 identified any of the brands asked about in the survey. 79 of the 96 affected people did not identify any particular brand.”

Mr Gallacher said the outbreak of the stomach complaint peaked in mid-September.

An Environmental Science and Research update on 10 October says there were two new confirmed cases of the illness with onset dates of 30 September and three under investigation prior to 30 September.

“The information implies we are dealing with an outbreak from a common source that was distributed around the country and consumed in early September. The outbreak was detected in routine health surveillance on 23 September, after the outbreak had peaked.

“Reports of new cases, if any, come in regularly and we will update the information should it change.”

MPI continues to advise normal food safety practice. If it looks off or smells off, throw it out. Otherwise keep fresh food chilled and wash fruit and vegetables before eating.

This remains the best preventative information available.

See your doctor, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice if you think you might have symptoms.

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