Alert in Spain due to botulism outbreak associated with packaged tortillas

He botulism is an infection caused by bacteria Clostridium botulinum, whose main route of transmission is the consumption of food that contains spores of this microorganism due to having been poorly packaged or improperly preserved. The Ministry of Health has detected a outbreak of botulism related to the ingestion of packaged potato tortilla which has already affected seven people –five in whom the disease has been confirmed in the laboratory – with a date of onset of symptoms between June 24 and July 10– and another two that are probable cases reported by the Valencian Community and Andalusia –whose dates of onset of symptoms have been June 21 and July 1 respectively–. In all cases, the consumption of the packaged potato tortilla occurred between June 19 and July 5.

This pre-cooked food was from different brands and had been bought in different supermarkets, although the Spanish Agency for Food Safety (AESAN) has reported that at least four of those affected had consumed tortillas made by the same company, the Palacios Food Business Groupwhich has communicated its decision to voluntarily withdraw “the packaged potato tortilla fresh from the plate produced at the Mudrian (Segovia) factory, as well as to temporarily stop its manufacture, as this product is associated with confirmed botulism cases in recent days”.

For its part, AESAN has specified that, although “until now it has not been possible to establish evidence, neither in the products nor in the processes, that relate cause and effect, the Palacios group requests all those people who have purchased any of these products to refrain from consuming it and proceed to return it at the point of sale”. This is the list provided by AESAN:

  • Palacios brand
  • Chef Select (sold in Lidl supermarkets)
  • Auchan (in Alcampo supermarkets)
  • buy it
  • units
  • Consum
  • essentials
  • almond tree
  • conditions
  • The English Court
  • Carrefour
  • Alipende (in Ahorramás supermarkets)
  • IFA Group
  • Brand Rikissimo
  • Net
  • Salting
  • intermarch
  • Naysa
  • Gesture
  • Do you like it

Botulism: rare, but serious

Botulism is a rare disease, but it can cause death if it is not diagnosed and treated on time (its mortality rate ranges between 5% and 10%); in fact, at least three of the patients have had to be admitted to the ICU, although so far there have been no deaths among the cases associated with this outbreak.

The symptoms of botulism, which include nausea or vomiting, muscle weakness, dry mouth or double vision, among others, can appear hours after eating the contaminated food (between 12 and 36 hours), or take days to manifest themselves, and the shorter the incubation period, the more serious the infection and the greater the risk of fatality.

“The Palacios group requests all those who have purchased any of these products to refrain from consuming it and proceed to return it at the point of sale”

Los confirmed detected cases They are two people (a 23-year-old woman and her 61-year-old father) who reside in Italy and had eaten a pre-cooked tortilla during their stay in Valladolid and began to experience symptoms upon returning to their country. The three confirmed cases in Spain are people aged 43, 39 and 50 who reside in Madrid, Galicia and Asturias and consumed packaged tortillas between June 19 and July 5. The three have been admitted to the ICU, although the Galician patient has already been discharged.

The cases considered probable due to having a compatible clinical picture and epidemiological link, but which have not yet been confirmed in the laboratory, have been notified by the Valencian Community and Andalusia. They are two people aged 49 and 27, respectively, who began with symptoms on June 21 and July 1, while the suspected consumption occurred between June 19 and June 30.

After the outbreak was detected, the Health Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Center (CCAES), directed by Fernando Simón, contacted the communities to alert them of suspected cases. In turn, AESAN has asked the territorial authorities to verify the withdrawal of Grupo Palacios products.

To diagnose botulism, the serum, vomit or feces are analyzed to detect the responsible toxin, but the doctor takes into account the patient’s symptoms and the history of having eaten something suspected of containing the toxin to start treatment as soon as possible, which consists of administer intravenously botulinum antitoxin.

Botulism is a notifiable disease in Spain, and between 2015 and 2022 a total of 88 cases of botulism have been reported, of which 20 were suspected, 20 probable and 48 confirmed. So far this year, in addition to the cases associated with the current outbreak, 21 suspected cases and two cases in children under one year of age have been reported.


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