An ongoing outbreak of botulism in Spain has expanded to affect a total of 11 individuals, with new cases recently reported in both Norway and Italy. The source of the outbreak has been traced to various packaged brands of Spanish omelets (tortilla de patata) containing potatoes and eggs, purchased from different supermarkets across multiple regions. The latest cases involve two Norwegians who stayed in Barcelona during July, with the first case requiring hospitalization and treatment with botulinum antitoxin. Italy recorded two cases linked to omelets eaten in Spain.
The implicated omelets were produced by a single company and distributed to various countries, including Andorra, France, and Portugal. To assist consumers, a batch numbering system has been introduced, with batch numbers equal to or above 10001 and expiration dates after September 2 considered safe. Omelets with lot numbers ranging from 5426 to 5563 are advised to be avoided.
The company responsible for the outbreak suspended production temporarily but has recently resumed operations following regulatory approval. Extensive analyses found no evidence of Clostridium botulinum or botulinum toxin in their products or manufacturing processes. It’s important for consumers to follow recommended storage instructions on product labels, especially concerning refrigeration.
Botulism, a rare yet serious condition caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria, can lead to various symptoms, including vision problems, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, swallowing difficulties, paralysis, and muscle weakness. These symptoms typically emerge within 18 to 36 hours after consuming contaminated food. Individuals experiencing these symptoms after consuming the implicated products should seek immediate medical attention. The international scope of this outbreak underscores the importance of food safety and surveillance measures across borders.