19/07/18: Spanish officials investigating illnesses linked to chard, cheese

recalled-Ybarra-brand-chard-AcelgasTwo people have fallen ill in Spain after eating chard sold in jars. The product, packaged under the Ybarra brand, is suspected to contain high levels of tropane alkaloids.

The Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN) reported that it was informed about the situation by health officials in Madrid. The agency said the condition of the two sick people has “evolved favourably.”

Datura stramonium, also known as jimsonweed, is a plant, containing atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine, which are tropane alkaloids that can lead to poisoning.

The affected product is labelled as “Acelgas” (chard) under the Ybarra brand. It is sold in 660-gram glass jars marked with batch number 18023. Grupo Ybarra Alimentación said the incident is limited to only the jars with that batch number and a date code of Nov. 16, 2022.

The implicated product has been withdrawn from stores as a precautionary measure.

The facilities of Grupo Ybarra in Lodosa, Navarra, have been certified to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Food Standard since 2017.

AECOSAN said distribution of the product in question included Andalucía, Cataluña, Castilla y León, Castilla- La Mancha, Madrid and Valencia. Management of food alerts in the country is on a national level through the Coordinated System of Fast Interchange of Information (SCIRI).

Earlier this year, at least 19 people fell ill in Hungary from atropine poisoning in foods containing caraway. Contamination of the caraway seeds, which came from Egypt, likely occurred during harvest, according to investigators.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said tropane alkaloids are secondary metabolites which occur in several plant families. Although more than 200 different ones have been identified in various plants, data on toxicity and occurrence in food is limited.

Typical symptoms are tachycardia, hyperthermia, dryness and reddening of the skin, visual defect, speech disorder, a decrease in intestinal sounds, urinary retention, agitation, disorientation and hallucination.

Datura stramonium toxicity usually occurs within 60 minutes after ingestion. Clinical symptoms may last 24 to 48 hours.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Lanzarote, a Spanish island, are investigating an outbreak of Staphylococcal food poisoning that has sickened 11 people. None of the victims required hospitalization. Cheese is suspected to be the source of the outbreak.

Health inspectors have identified the establishment where the implicated cheese is presumed to have been sold and taken samples which are currently being analyzed.

Staphylococcal food poisoning is a gastrointestinal illness caused by eating foods contaminated with toxins produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.

Symptoms usually develop within 30 minutes to six hours. Patients typically experience vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea. The illness cannot be passed to other people and typically lasts for one day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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