A food suspected of causing severe food poisoning

11.7.2006

<div>Two people in Päijät-Häme Hospital District have been diagnosed with probable botulism on 6 July 2006. The suspected source of the infection is vacuum packed hot-smoked whitefish manufactured by Apetit Kala Oy. The product has also been marketed under the Pirkka brand. Apetit Kala Oy and Ruokakesko Oy are withdrawing hot-smoked whitefish products from the market in the entire country. The product has not been exported to other countries. The manufacturer has discontinued the production of hot-smoked whitefish.</div>

Botulism is an extremely rare disease in Finland, last diagnosed in 1999. Clostridium botulinum is a soil bacterium that grows particularly well in oxygen-free conditions. The botulinum neurotoxin produced by the bacterium is a powerful nerve poison. Botulinum neurotoxin has been found in vacuum packed fish and meat products as well as in vegetables.

The symptoms of botulism usually appear 12–36 hours after exposure. Symptoms include progressive weakness from head to limbs and paralysis symptoms that may include difficulty of swallowing and speech, weakness of eye movements and visual disturbances. Botulism does not manifest as fever. Patients that experience these symptoms should contact their local health care centre immediately.

The Food Safety Authority Evira has advised municipal food control authorities to urgently verify the implementation of the withdrawal in establishments where the product has been sold or served. Evira has further requested municipal control authorities to inspect the storage temperatures and times of fish products in establishments where the products are sold, served or manufactured.

 

For more information, please contact:

Food safety:
Kyösti Siponen, Director, Food Safety Authority, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24230, +358 (0) 50 3868412. E-mail: kyosti.siponenat-merkki.gifevira.fi
Eija Läikkö, Senior Officer, Food Safety Authority, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24270, +358 (0) 50 3868419. E-mail: eija.laikkoat-merkki.gifevira.fi

Botulism:
Markku Kuusi, Epidemiologist, National Public Health Institute, tel. +358 (0) 9 47448935
Marjo Vuorela, Infection Doctor, Päijät-Häme District Hospital, tel. +358 (0) 3 81911

Laboratory analyses:
Miia Lindström, Researcher, University of Helsink/Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, tel. +358 (0) 40 520 3627

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