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The outbreak of listeriosis caused by contaminated shredded meat has placed under the spotlight the state of food security in Spain, as they did in the past the case of rapeseed oil or "crazy cows" .
Food alerts are the order of the day - Spain has notified about twenty to the EU only in August -, although most are not too important.
The last one occurred this Friday, when he noticed a case of botulinum toxin allegedly caused by the consumption of a can of tuna in sunflower oil of 900 grams manufactured by Frinsa and sold under the white label of supermarkets DIA, which has derived in the withdrawal of the entire lot.
Despite the concern generated at the social level this type of alerts, experts and authorities are unanimous: security levels are higher than ever and have improved significantly in recent decades , reducing the number of episodes and their mortality.
In addition, remember that thanks precisely to having improved and protocolized controls are also detected cases that were not even recorded before.
The data support this theory: in Europe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 23 million of the 600 million annual cases of food poisoning in the world, and the number of deaths amounts to 5,000 of the about 420,000 registered globally, which makes it the region with the lowest death rate for this reason.
37,000 cases of infections in 2017
In Spain alone, in 2017 about 37,000 cases of infections related to food and liquid intake were detected, and in the death chapter the most recent data provided by the National Epidemiology Center correspond to the accumulated 2004-2011, period in which seven deaths on average per year were observed .
Listeriosis, in particular, is a rare infection, with six cases per million people in Spain, but still this rate is higher than the European average (four cases per million).
"There may be an episode such as the listeria outbreak, but there are very few cases of intoxication (...) If you look at the official statistics, the cases have been going down a lot in recent years," he defends in statements to Efeagro the Vice President of the Spanish Food Safety Society (Sesal), Carmen Vidal.
Professor of Nutrition and Bromatology, Vidal emphasizes that the current protocols at European level are based on giving the manufacturer the responsibility for safety, a system of self-control - which subsequently validates the administration - that has caused the cases to have "plummeted" ".
"In the end, the industry is the main one interested in not having problems, since when a company 'clicks', it is touched for life. Their survival in them goes," he says. However, there is no zero risk , and there are already some voices that demand regulatory changes that further reinforce food protocols and controls.
Together with the 'camyplobacter' bacteria - bacteria that cause diarrhea - and listeria, salmonella, some strains of the bacteria 'Escherichia coli', the 'toxoplasma gondii' - a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis - and noroviruses are among the main responsible for food poisoning.
For the doctor in Veterinary Medicine and University Expert in Food Safety Management Ángel Manuel Caracuel there are very strict rules and controls, but if there are "clandestine" entrepreneurs who do not comply with them, there are official controls to detect them.
Although he acknowledges in declarations to Efeagro that it is "difficult to reach everything" , he insists on giving a message of tranquility, since the levels of food security are "very high".
The listeriosis outbreak has now returned the requirements in this area, which were reinforced as of 1981 when adulterated rapeseed oil, imported from France for industrial use, was fraudulently distributed in Spain and caused the death of hundreds of people.
Another twist was given to the regulations in the EU after the "mad cow" crisis at the beginning of the century, a type of transmissible encephalopathy of cattle to humans through meat.
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