Safety warnings issued following Salmonella outbreak

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Health issue: lamb and mutton has been affected by a strain of Salmonella (image credit: DewaldKirsten/gettyimages.co.uk)
Health issue: lamb and mutton has been affected by a strain of Salmonella (image credit: DewaldKirsten/gettyimages.co.uk)
Government bodies are advising operators on how to avoid a Salmonella outbreak following a particular strain of the bacteria being linked to lamb and mutton.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it first saw a rise in cases of this type of Salmonella in July last year.

A number of control measures were put in place, which led to a significant decline in cases at the end of 2017. A total of 118 cases were reported up until May 2018.

Since June this year, a further 165 cases have been reported (up to 19 October), which has prompted the FSA to put control measures in place.

Handling raw meat

Outbreak details

Prior to July 2017, just two cases of this Salmonella strain (single nucleotide polymorphism) had been detected in England.

Between July and November 2017, the first rise in this strain was observed with 95 cases reported in England, Scotland and Wales. Control measures were implemented, which resulted in a decline of cases.

Numbers of cases were at low levels from December 2017 to June 2018 (23 cases during this time). In June this year, the number of cases rose again and since June, 165 cases have been reported.

However, this hasn’t led to the same decline in cases as in 2017 so the FSA – along with Food Standards Scotland, Public Health England (PHE) and Health Protection Scotland – are reminding people to take care when handling raw meat and to ensure they cook it properly.

FSA chief operating officer Colin Sullivan said: “We are advising care when preparing all meat, including lamb and mutton to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with Salmonella Typhimurium.

“Our advice is to purchase food as normal but to take care when storing, handling and cooking raw meat.

“People should wash their hands after touching raw meat, avoid contaminating other food in the kitchens by storing it separately in the fridge and using different chopping boards and knives, and ensuring that meat – particularly diced and minced lamb – is cooking properly.”

Affected sheep

PHE national infection service deputy director Nick Phin suggested the rise in cases was down to affected livestock.

He added: “The likely cause of the increased number of this specific strain of Salmonella Typhimurium is considered to be meat or cross-contamination with meat from affected sheep.

“People can be infected with Salmonella Typhimurium in a number of ways such as not cooking meat properly, not washing hands thoroughly after handling raw meat or through cross-contamination with other food, surfaces and utensils in the kitchen.”

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