Food Standards Agency
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Outbreak of Salmonella Newport

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been notified by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) of an outbreak of a strain of Salmonella Newport infection that is known to have affected more than 30 people in the UK.

Although it is too soon to say for certain what the likely cause of infection is, a potential link to watermelons has been identified.

One person has died in the outbreak, although they also had serious underlying health complications. The outbreak was first detected in early December 2011 and the most recently reported illness was at the end of that month.

Alison Gleadle, Director of Food Safety at the FSA, said: 'We’ve been notified by the HPA about the outbreak of illness caused by a particular strain of Salmonella Newport. We are monitoring the situation and working closely with the European Commission, other countries, local authorities and the food industry, to investigate further.

'As soon as we have any significant additional information we will update consumers. In the meantime, it’s important for people to follow sound food hygiene practice when preparing any food. It is always advisable to wash fruits and vegetables before consumption to reduce the risk of possible illness.'

The science behind the story

Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning. It has been found in food products including unpasteurised milk, eggs, meat, poultry, and fresh produce. It can survive if food isn’t cooked thoroughly. Salmonella can grow unless the food is chilled properly.

People infected with salmonella should be particularly careful with personal hygiene because they could infect anyone who comes into direct contact with them. For example, if someone with salmonella doesn't wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, they could have bacteria on their hands. The symptoms include: diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain.

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