Page last updated at 19:41 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 20:41 UK

'Irish link' to Salmonella cases

Salmonella bacteria
Most people make full recovery from salmonella

A salmonella outbreak affecting 83 people in the UK and Ireland may be linked to a meat supplier in the Irish Republic, regulators there think.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said lab testing of foods found evidence of a possible link with Dawn Farm Foods in Naas, Co Kildare.

FSAI officials said potentially contaminated beef may have been supplied to the sandwich outlet Subway.

Both companies have withdrawn products that could be at risk to consumers.

Subway says it is no longer selling beef or another chicken product and Dawn Farm Foods have confirmed it is withdrawing selected batches of cooked beef, chicken and bacon from the made-to-order sandwich trade.

Alan Reilly, the chief executive of the FSAI said Dawn Farm Food was fully co-operating with the investigation.

"This is a highly complicated outbreak investigation focusing on products from one thermal processing line with a complex food distribution chain," Mr Reilly said.

'Food safety paramount'

In the UK, the Health Protection Agency says 75 people have contracted the new strain of Salmonella Agona across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The FSAI said there were eight confirmed reports of the infection in the Republic between the end of June and early July and two further possible cases are being investigated.

The HPA said it is working closely with Irish authorities to confirm the source of the outbreak.

Consumers who believe any food they have eaten has made them ill should seek medical advice
Paul Reilly
Chief executive, Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Dawn Farm Foods said food safety was paramount and it had an excellent track record throughout its 25 years in operation.

"All of the company's products are tested prior to release to the market," a spokeswoman said.

"Rigorous externally-run tests and regular audits are also conducted to ensure that its products meet the highest standards as required by customers, the Department of Agriculture and Food Safety Authorities both in Ireland and the UK."

Subway said that as a precautionary measure it had withdrawn batches of Philly Style Steak and Chicken Fajita products from sale.

"No other products are affected by this action and alternative supplies of the Philly Style Steak and Chicken Fajita have been sourced," a spokeswoman said.

"The Subway chain would like to assure consumers that products from the suspect batches are no longer in Subway outlets and that our customers can be confident eating in our stores."

Medical advice

Salmonella is a food-borne disease and symptoms can include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever.

"Salmonella Agona is very unpleasant, but it is not life threatening for most people who usually make a full recovery," Paul Reilly from the FSAI said.

"However, serious complications can occur for older people, young children, pregnant women and people who are already sick with weakened immune systems.

"Consumers who believe any food they have eaten has made them ill should seek medical advice."

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