Nearly 700 professionals met in Seville this past week to talk about Spain’s largest ever Listeria outbreak, which occurred in 2019.

The Minister of Health and Families, Jesús Aguirre, opened the International Symposium on the Andalusian Listeriosis outbreak that sickened more than 200 people.

The listeriosis alert was started in mid-August and ended by mid-October. In those two months, the outbreak from “La Mecha” brand chilled roasted pork meat produced by Magrudis caused three deaths in elderly people and five abortions.

International involvement
Attendees heard about food safety, epidemiological surveillance, clinical management and healthcare organization, and microbiological diagnosis: identification and molecular typing.

A plenary session and two workshops covered the management of information and perspective of the consumer and patient.

The outbreak was reported by Spanish authorities to the World Health Organization, via the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) in late August.

In November, an operation named Monocy, was led by the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) with Europol’s support in connection with the outbreak. Six people were arrested and two people held in provincial detention without bail.

An investigation found individuals were aware in December 2018 that some food products contained Listeria but they did not inform authorities and continued to sell it. A total of 17 tons of food contaminated with Listeria was seized and incinerated in Cadiz, Spain.

France and Austria share Listeria expertise
The event, organized by the Ministry of Health and Families, involved Johanna Takkinen of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and Marta Garcia Perez from the Agencia Española de Consumo, Seguridad alimentaria y Nutrición (AESAN).

Marc Lecuit of Pasteur Institute in France spoke about the French experience of Listeria infections and Valentina Rizzi of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was part of a roundtable debate.

Werner Ruppitsch, from the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) spoke about typing tools for Listeria monocytogenes and Javier Tellechea, from DG Sante of the European Commission, helped to conclude the conference.

Jordi Castilla, from FACUA Andalucía, was involved in the symposium. The consumer group has a legal team representing some victims of the outbreak.

A total of 27 people are included in the case while 11 other cases could be added. Nine people have been rejected as the judge considered the relationship with Magrudis products and the Listeria was not proven. The judge of the Court of Instruction No. 10 of Seville, Pilar Ordóñez, is investigating the listeriosis outbreak.

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