A : continuation of a trend involving ready-to-eat productsSalmonella: continuation of a trend involving ready-to-eat products Typhimurium phage type (PT) U320 outbreak in England, 2008: continuation of a trend involving ready-to-eat products

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In March 2008, the Health Protection Agency in England conducted a retrospective case-control study to investigate the cause of 179 cases of the newly recognized, fully antimicrobial-sensitive Salmonella Typhimurium PT U320. Forty-three symptomatic laboratory-confirmed case-patients and 84 asymptomatic location-matched controls were interviewed by telephone about exposures in the 3 days prior to illness or interview. Multivariate logistic analysis indicated consumption of pre-packaged egg sandwiches (odds ratio 3·29, 95% confidence interval 1·19–9·09) was independently associated with illness. Eight of the 15 case-patients who consumed egg sandwiches did so from retail chain A (53·3%) whereas none of the eight controls consumed similar sandwiches (χ2=7·20, P ≤ 0·01). A review of the pre-packaged egg sandwich ingredients suggested this outbreak was probably caused by exposure to an ingredient common to pre-packaged sandwiches and prepared salads but we established a definitive epidemiological link with only the former. Short shelf-life, product diversity and investigation lag hinder epidemiological investigations of such popular products, providing continued challenges for food safety enforcement of freshly prepared produce.

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