Watermelons may be the cause of salmonella outbreak in the UK

An outbreak of a particular strain of salmonella first detected in early December last year could potentially be linked to the consumption of watermelons, say the Food Standards Agency.

There have been numerous cases, in the UK and elsewhere:

  • Twenty-six in England
  • Three in Wales
  • Four in Scotland
  • One in Northern Ireland
  • Five in the Republic of Ireland and
  • Fifteen in Germany

For the moment, there has only been one fatality linked to the outbreak, although it would seem that the infected person already suffered from serious underlying health problems.

It is thought that the risk of contracting salmonella from eating watermelons is fairly low, although the FSA is advising people to follow sound food hygiene practices when preparing fruits and vegetables for consumption.

Fresh fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before they are eaten, thus reducing the risk of infection. For businesses preparing or selling food, it may be advisable to reiterate the importance of hygiene to employees.

Employers should make sure that their members of staff have received adequate food safety training, and that they are fully aware of the risks of food poisoning and contamination.