INFOSAN Quarterly Summary, 2020 #3

INFOSAN Quarterly Summary voice-3-2020

Food safety events

During the third quarter of 2020, the INFOSAN Secretariat has been involved in 37 food safety events involving 78 WHO Member States and five territories of WHO Member States. There were 18 events involving a biological hazard (Salmonella [10], Listeria monocytogenes [2],  E. coli [2], Norovirus [1], Pseudomonas spp. [1], Clostridium botulinum [1], Bacillus cereusa [1], Campylobacter spp.a [1] and Enterococcus faecalisa [1]); six involving an undeclared allergen (peanut [2], milkb [2], eggc [1], soyc [1], walnuts [1] and hazelnutsb [1]); five involving a physical hazard (plastic [2] glass [2] and foreign matter [1]); five involving a chemical hazard (histamine [3], clenbuterol [1] and phytohemagglutinin [1]); and three involving an unidentified hazard.

During the third quarter of 2020, the most commonly involved food categories (within 37 events) were: nuts and oilseeds (5); snacks, desserts, and other foods (5); fish and other seafood (4); meat and meat products (4); vegetables and vegetables products (4); milk and dairy products (3); herbs, spices and condiments (2); legumes and pulses (2); composite food (2); fruit and fruit products (2);  fruit and vegetable juice (1); food for infants and small children (1); egg and egg products (1); and cereals and cereal-based products (1).

During such international food safety events, the INFOSAN Secretariat relies on the swift action of national INFOSAN Emergency Contact Points (ECP) to respond to requests for information. Rapid sharing of information through INFOSAN enables members to implement appropriate risk management measures to prevent illness.

Geographic scope

These food safety events involved Member States and territories from all WHO regions: Europe (37), followed by Western Pacific (16), the Americas (11), Africa (9), Eastern Mediterranean (9), and finally South-East Asia (1). 

Multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to fresh peaches from the United States of America

During this quarter, a multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections in the United States of America (USA) and Canada linked to the consumption of fresh peaches produced in the USA, was reported to the INFOSAN Secretariat. As of 27 August 2020, 78 cases in the USA have been linked to the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis; no deaths have been reported. In Canada, as of 2 September 2020, there have been 48 cases confirmed as linked to this outbreak; no deaths have been reported. Investigations are still ongoing.

Implicated products were internationally distributed from the USA to Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore and Taiwan (China). In addition, through the ECP in New Zealand, the INFOSAN Secretariat was also informed of the distribution of the implicated products to New Zealand where authorities initiated a recall of the concerned products. The implicated products were re-exported from New Zealand to Cook Islands, French Polynesia (France), Samoa and Tonga.

During the event, information concerning the details of the implicated products was disseminated to Network members to facilitate the implementation of risk management measures. Through collaboration with the ECP in the USA, details of the Whole Genome Sequencing were also shared to facilitate the identification of possible matching cases in recipient countries. Several recipient countries shared with the INFOSAN Secretariat, details on the risk management measures implemented in response to the distribution of implicated products. No further cases of illness were reported to the INFOSAN Secretariat in recipient countries beyond the USA and Canada.

News & activities

Ongoing study of INFOSAN

Results from phase two of the ongoing study of INFOSAN will soon be published in the Journal of Food Protection. The early online edition of the article is already available online, titled, Exploring the International Food Safety Authorities Network as a Community of Practice: Results from a global survey of network members. This study represents the first ever to explore and describe the experiences of INFOSAN members with respect to their participation in network activities to improve global food safety and prevent foodborne diseases and to describe the characteristics of INFOSAN as a community of practice. The results suggest that INFOSAN is a valued tool, utilized globally to reduce the burden of foodborne illness and save lives. Results from this study can inform the prioritization of future activities to further strengthen the network and support participation of members. As a reminder, results from phase one of the study have already been published, here. The third and final phase is currently underway, and results will be reported in due course. Full details on the overall study are available online, here. The INFOSAN Secretariat would like to once again thank members for their participation in the study.
INFOSAN Working Groups

The second and third meetings of the INFOSAN Working Groups were held online in August and September 2020.

For the second session, participants discussed the topic of food recalls in the international context: effective management and communication with stakeholders. During the discussion, challenges and opportunities from a national perspective on the implementation of food recalls effectively were addressed. A series of recommendations were also developed, including the proactive notification to INFOSAN of international food recalls. During the third session, the group discussed allergens in food, presenting their experience when dealing with allergen issues, including for instance national regulatory frameworks, among others. The INFOSAN Secretariat is planning to hold further working groups in the coming months.

The outputs of these working group discussions will be shared with all Network members once available.

Kuwait National Virtual INFOSAN Workshop

In an effort to support countries in strengthening their capacity to manage food safety risks, national multi-agency workshops have previously been organized in several countries with support from the INFOSAN Secretariat. Such workshops bring together national INFOSAN members to improve national coordination and communication across sectors and across borders. Given the ongoing pandemic and related travel restrictions, physical workshops have been limited. However, with support and initiative from the INFOSAN members in Kuwait, the first virtual INFOSAN workshop was held over two days in September, with participants from several national agencies involved in food safety. The INFOSAN Secretariat acknowledges the INFOSAN members in Kuwait for their enthusiasm and dedication to improving the way in which food safety incidents are identified, responded to and communicated about in their country. Other Member States who are interested in organizing national virtual INFOSAN workshops can express their interest to the Secretariat.  


Voice of an active network member


a One incident involved all three B. cereusCampylobacter sp. and Enterococcus faecalis
b One incident involved both milk and hazelnuts
c One incident involved both soy and egg

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