AFSCA, the Belgian food safety authority, announced today (January 23rd) that powdered milk imported from Belgium was believed responsible for infecting infants in the north of Russia with Salmonella Oranienburg. AFSCA reports that just one production lot comprising 19 tonnes was implicated; 16 tonnes were shipped to Russia, and the remaining 3 tonnes – mixed together with other production lots – were supplied to several third-world countries. None of the contaminated milk powder was sold in Belgium, or in any other European country.
AFSCA has inspected the manufacturing facility and is confident that all necessary measures have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence of the contamination.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE (posted January 22, 2012)
Implicated dry milk formula also shipped to Haiti and to several African countries.
Powdered infant formula manufactured by a Belgian company is responsible for 16 cases of salmonellosis in Usolie (Omsk, Irkutsk, Russia), according to a report carried on ProMED mail. The illnesses occurred between November 2, 2011 and January 13, 2012.
Thirteen of the outbreak victims were children aged 2 weeks to 7 months; one was a 4-year old child, and two victims were adults aged 24 and 29 years. All sixteen confirmed victims were infected with Salmonella Oranienburg.
The implicated milk was identified as “Damil a” dry milk formula. It was manufactured in Belgium by FASSKA S.A., and distributed in the Russian Federation by JSC “STI Damil” (Moscow). The implicated batch of dry milk formula carried a date of manufacture of 01.2011.
The Russian distributor has recalled the dry milk formula, which was supplied to wholesale suppliers, large retail chains, pharmacies and health care institutions. In addition, Baku Today reports that the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Irkutsk region has instituted proceedings under Article 2h 238 of the Criminal Code, on the grounds that the “production, storage, transport or marketing of goods and products do not meet the requirements of security.”
Belgium has notified the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (“RASFF” – Notification #2012.0094, issued 17/01/2012 and updated 20/01/2012) that dry milk infant formula linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg was supplied to Burundi, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Haiti, Mozambique and the Russian Federation. I have been unable to find any reports of Salmonella Oranienburg illnesses from countries other than Russia.
As usual, the official public notification through RASFF did not identify the manufacturer or brand of the product for which the foodborne outbreak alert was issued. But the coincidence is compelling.
Fasska distributes its products worldwide, and boasts that attention to quality is a “constant obsession that guides each action made and decision taken…” within the company. A statement explaining what steps the company was taking to get to the bottom of the contamination and prevent a reoccurrence would be appropriate – as would a statement from the Belgian government that it was undertaking an investigation of the manufacturing facility.
Russian consumers who have purchased the dry milk powder infant formula have been instructed to return it to the place of purchase and to inform the Omsk region Rospotrebnadzor (regulatory authority).