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Wednesday 20 February 2019

Firm halts food lines after link to salmonella

Louise Hogan

AN Irish food company has temporarily stood down production at its meat plant after it was linked to a salmonella outbreak.

Retailers yesterday advertised further food product recalls as a European-wide investigation into the bout of food poisoning which has affected over 100 people continued.

A Europe-wide public health alert was issued after the outbreak strain was confirmed in three EU countries -- Ireland, the UK and Finland.

Information gathered by food-safety bosses suggests the potentially contaminated products produced by Dawn Farm Foods in Naas, Co Kildare, may be linked to the outbreak.

The company had already ceased production in the sector of the plant that was causing food-safety bosses concern and had issued precautionary recalls of certain products.

However, yesterday Dawn Farm Foods -- which employs about 500 workers -- confirmed it was temporarily standing down production at the entire meat plant. It says the cessation of operations would allow for a "pharmaceutical grade clean-down" of the plant, which is expected to take about a week.

A total of 123 people have been notified as Salmonella Agona cases, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). The centre has confirmed tests were underway to identify whether other individuals infected with salmonella also have the outbreak strain.

The Eurosurveillance report from the European Centre for Disease Control identifies 110 cases as confirmed, including 69 in England, 10 in Ireland and one in Finland.

About 14 people were hospitalised due to salmonella. Those affected range in age from three months old to 79 years.

A 77-year-old woman in the UK died from complications after contracting the Salmonella Agona. However, where she contracted the bacteria from has not been confirmed.

The investigation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and public-health agencies is still ongoing. They continue to look at other possible sources linked to the salmonella outbreak.

Advice line

The FSAI, which is operating an advice line on 1890 33 66 77, said there was a link with the Naas plant but did not know whether it was the "absolute source".

A specialist bio-activation technology company, which works in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sectors, will clean the plant.

A spokeswoman for Dawn Farm Foods said yesterday the link has focused solely on one specific production line. Once the company was notified, it closed the production line and halted shipping of associated products.

The withdrawal of products has mainly focused on the made-to-order sandwiches. Cooked beef, chicken and bacon products processed on the same line were also withdrawn.

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