Outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant salmonella have been linked to tomatoes, experts warn.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the life-threatening pathogen was discovered in the UK, US and 11 European countries last year.
The Salmonella Senftenberg cases were found and believed to be caused by “cherry-like tomatoes,” experts said.
An ECDPC spokesman said: “Case surveys in Austria, Germany, France and Sweden indicated that cherry-like tomatoes are a possible carrier of infection.”
“The outbreak strain was discovered in a mixed salad dish made with cherry tomatoes and green leafy vegetables on August 17, 2022 in France.
“Tomatoes in lettuce in France and tomatoes suspected of transmitting the infections in Austria have been traced back to wholesalers in Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, and to tomato growers in the Netherlands, Spain and Morocco.”
Salmonella is a bacteria normally found in foods like eggs and chicken that can cause food poisoning symptoms for up to two weeks in otherwise healthy people.
Signs include diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, headache and blood in the stool.
In severe cases it can be fatal, with young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems being particularly at risk.
In these cases, they may need antibiotics to clear the infection — although the drugs aren’t necessary in the vast majority of infections.
However, experts are concerned about increasing infections caused by antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogens.
The ECDPC report identified four cases of Salmonella Senftenberg in the UK between August last year and July this year.
During the same period, there have been two cases in the US, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a safety alert about the virus last year.
Germany recorded the most cases with 26, followed by France (16), Finland (11) and Sweden (11).
Antimicrobial resistance has been identified in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.