Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney
Food Standards alert on Lloyd Grossman Korma sauce
14 November 2011

Anyone in Orkney concerned about the following alert from the FSA can contact Orkney Islands Council's Environmental Health team on (01856) 87 35 35.

FSA warning on certain jars of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce
(Issued Sunday 13 November 2011)
 
The Food Standards Agency is advising people not to consume specific jars of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce. This is because of the risk of botulism poisoning.

Only one jar from the batch is known to have been contaminated with the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, but the Agency is advising people not to eat products from this batch as a precautionary measure.

Details of the affected batch

The affected batch is:

350g jars of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce with a 'best before' date of February 2013. 

The sauce has a batch code of: 1218R 07:21.

Anyone who has any of the jars from this batch of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce should not eat it. No other batches of Loyd Grossman products are thought to be affected.

Two members of the same family who have contracted botulism and have eaten from a jar of this batch of sauce have been hospitalised in Scotland. The FSA will issue more information as it becomes available.

Background

Botulism is rare in the UK and is caused by toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which attacks the nervous system and can affect people of any age. The infection is not contagious and so cannot be spread from person to person. Symptoms of foodborne botulism typically begin between 12 and 36 hours after ingestion of contaminated food, but may appear in as little as six hours.

Symptoms to look out for are a combination of blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and difficulty speaking – symptoms that rapidly get worse. They are then followed by general muscle weakness. Any person, child or adult, with these symptoms should seek urgent medical advice. Antitoxins have proved very effective in treating the condition if treated early, although full recovery may take several months.

Anyone who has consumed this product and is concerned about the symptoms above should seek urgent medical advice. Outside of normal hours, they can contact NHS DIRECT on 08454647 or in Scotland NHS 24 0845 242424. People who do not have symptoms but would like more general advice about botulism can call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or see the information on their website http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/news/spdetail.aspx?id=435

Question and Answer:

Suspected botulism in two children - Q&A (issued by Fodd Standards Authority)
 
Information correct as of 15:45, 13th November 2011:
 
 
Q1) What are the foods you are investigating in relation to the cases of botulism in Scotland?
 
We have looked at a number of different foods which might be implicated in this case as part of the investigation and current indications are pointing to a single jar of Lloyd Grossman Korma sauce as the most likely source.  The Korma sauce was consumed by the two cases that have developed botulism and preliminary evidence indicates that it was contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.  Currently all other foods tested are negative for botulinum toxin.

Q1a)  Will cooking destroy the botulinum toxin?

Although the toxin can be destroyed by thorough cooking it would be unsafe to rely on this as means of control.  If you have a jar of the implicated batch of Korma sauce then you should not use and throw it away

Q1b) Can I tell whether the sauce is contaminated when I open the jar?

No, the sauce may not look or smell unusual even if contaminated

Q1c)  How should I dispose of the jar?

We would suggest disposing of any jars of this batch of korma sauce with the domestic waste rather than emptying the contents and sending the jar for recycling.  However, if you have consumed some of the product and are feeling unwell then we suggest that you keep the jar until you have consulted a doctor.

Q1d)  I have a half-used jar of the sauce in my fridge, can I use it?

If it is from the implicated batch then we would recommend that you don’t use it and that you throw it way.  If you feel unwell then you should keep it until after you have consulted a doctor.

1e) How could this product have caused botulism

At this stage we don’t know how this problem arose.  Investigations are continuing to try and establish the cause of the problem and to rule out any wider problem.  The manufacturer Premier Foods are co-operating fully with the investigation. 

Q2)  What is the FSA advice to consumers?
 
A2)  Anyone who has the any of the jars of this batch of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce at home should not eat it but should throw it away.


Q3) Where has the affected batch been sold?
 
A3)  It was supplied to Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op stores across the UK

Q4)  Are any othe batches or products implicated?
 
A4)  No other batches of Loyd Grossman products are thought to be affected.
 
Q5) How many people are affected and has any information been published on this?
 
A5) Two members of the same family are in a serious but stable condition in hospital in Scotland with an illness which has been confirmed as botulism.
 
On Friday Health Protection Scotland issued a statement to inform the public of these cases and to urge them to be aware of the symptoms of botulism;

http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/news/spdetail.aspx?id=435

 
On Friday, the FSA also published an article on its website to ensure that the public are aware;
http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2011/nov/botulism
 
Q6) What is botulism?

A6) Botulism is caused by botulinum toxin, which is a poison produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The bacterium is common in the soil in the form of spores.
 
Q7) What are the symptoms?

A7) Symptoms often begin with blurred vision and difficulty in swallowing and speaking, but sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting can occur. The disease can go on to lead to further problems with vision, and paralysis. Anyone with these symptoms should seek urgent medical advice. Most cases recover although this may take many months. The disease can be fatal in 5-10% of cases.
 
Q8) How do you get botulism?

A8) Foodborne botulism occurs when the spores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum germinate, multiply and produce botulinum toxin in food. If a person consumes the toxin when they eat the food then they are likely to develop botulism.

Clostridium botulinum only grows and makes botulinum toxin in places without any oxygen. Certain foods that are stored in air-tight containers (e.g. cans, jars, vacuum packaging or modified atmosphere packaging) or in oil can potentially represent a botulism risk if they are not formulated or processed properly so care needs to be taken when they are manufactured and stored.

Q9) Are they any other forms of botulism?

A9) Infant botulism is extremely rare but occurs when the baby ingests spores which germinate to produce the bacterial cells that reproduce in the gut and release toxin. In most adults and older children, this would not happen because the natural defences which have developed in an adult gut would prevent the germination and growth of Clostridium botulinum. In some babies, these defences have not yet developed, and so this gives the infection a chance to get a foothold and produce the toxin.

Infant botulism occurs almost exclusively in infants below the age of 12 months. Ninety nine percent of cases occur in children less than one year old although 94% of cases occur in children less than 6 months old.
 
Cases of infant botulism have been associated with consumption of honey. Currently it is recommended that honey is not given to infants under 12 months of age. Honey is safe for children over the age of one, but a younger baby’s gut is not sufficiently developed to be able to fight off the bacteria.
 
There is a further form of botulism in non-infants termed toxico-infection where the Clostridium botulinum bacteria multiply in the gut producing toxin.
 
Wound botulism has the same symptoms as other forms, but occurs when the organisms get into an open wound and are able to reproduce in an "anaerobic" environment.
 
Q10) How long can you have the infection before developing symptoms?

A10) It is usually 12-36 hours between exposure to the toxin and the development of symptoms although it can be longer. In infant botulism, some time may elapse between ingestion of the spores and the release of the toxin.
 
Q11) How can botulism be prevented or treated if people may have been exposed?

A11) Antitoxin is available which can be given to a patient as an "antidote" to tackle the toxin. In addition, treatment will focus on tackling the symptoms, such as supporting ventilation in the event of respiratory failure.

There is a vaccine against botulism, but there are concerns about its effectiveness and it also has side effects, and so it is not widely used.
 
 
Q12) Where can I find more information on botulism?
 
A12) Further information on botulism is available on the NHS Choices and HPA websites at;
 
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/botulism/Pages/Introduction.aspx
http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Botulism/
 
Q13) How common is foodborne botulism?

A13) Foodborne botulism is very rare in the UK. Between 1980 and 2010, 33 cases of foodborne botulism were reported in England and Wales. See table 1 for further details.
 
Q14) Which foods has botulism been linked to previously?

A14) Examples of foods linked to human botulism worldwide are shown in table 2.
 
Q15) Which foods can be a botulism risk?
 
A15) The type of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum which can cause botulism only grows and makes a harmful toxin in places without any oxygen. Certain foods that are stored in air-tight containers (e.g. cans, jars, vacuum packaging or modified atmosphere packaging) or in oil can potentially represent a botulism risk and so care needs to be taken when they are manufactured and stored.
 
Companies must take C. botulinum and other food safety issues into account and formulate and process their products to ensure that they will be safe to eat.
 
Foodborne botulism is very rare in the UK with only 33 cases being reported in England and Wales between 1980 and 2010.  There have been no cases of foodborne botulism in Scotland since at least 1983.
 
Q16) What can consumers do to prevent botulism?
 
A16) The type of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum which can cause botulism only grows and makes a harmful toxin in places without any oxygen. Certain foods that are stored in air-tight containers (e.g. cans, jars, vacuum packaging or modified atmosphere packaging) or in oil can potentially represent a botulism risk and so care needs to be taken when they are manufactured and stored.
 
Companies must take C. botulinum and other food safety issues into account and formulate and process their products to ensure that they will be safe to eat.
 
Botulism is very rare in the UK, although it’s sensible to follow basic hygiene advice when storing and using foods;

  • Before using food check if the packaging has ‘blown’ or is damaged whether the lid has ‘popped’ or the seal is broken. If so then do not use the foodFollow the storage instructions on the label in particular;
  • if the label says that the food should be stored in the fridge then make sure it is kept at 5oC or below
  • some foods that are stored at room temperature need to be kept in the fridge after they have been opened – check the label
  • don’t use food after its ‘use by’ date
  • use opened foods within two days, unless the instructions state otherwise
  • Follow any instructions on the label about how to heat or reheat the food.

 Q17) Are the cases linked to the recent incident involving botulism associated with olives with almonds from Italy?

A17) There is no indication of a link between the cases and the recent incident involving olives with almonds from Italy.
 
Q18) Where can I find information on the recent incident involving botulism associated with olives with almonds from Italy?

A18) Information is available on our website at: http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2011/oct/gaudianoupdate