Botulism in Spain: outbreak linked to omelettes sold in Spain, Andorra, France, Portugal
11 Aug 2023
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported five confirmed and four probable cases of botulism in Spain between 21 June 2023 and 31 July 2023. The outbreak is linked to consumption of packaged Spanish potato omelettes from different brands and supermarkets in different parts of Spain. Two of the cases were reported by Italy, after the travellers ate potato omelette whilst in Spain.
One of the suspected brands of omelettes which are distributed to Andorra, France and Portugal are produced by Palacios Alimentación in Mudrián (Segovia). The factory ceased operation and recalled all suspected omelettes made before before 18 July 2023 as a precaution. Production has now started again.
Botulism is a serious illness which causes paralysis. It is caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Botulism can occur naturally (e.g., from eating food containing the toxin, or from wounds infected with the toxin), or be caused unintentionally following injection of Botox for therapeutic or cosmetic reasons.
Symptoms of botulism can develop within a few hours to several days after exposure and can include generalised /limb/facial weakness, , visual disturbance, exhaustion, breathing and/or swallowing difficulties.
Advice for Travellers
In relation to this particular outbreak, any Spanish omelettes manufactured prior to 18 July 2023 by Palacios Alimentación in Mudrián (Segovia) should not be eaten and should either be thrown away, or returned to the point of sale.
All travellers, irrespective of destination are potentially at risk of botulism infection. To reduce your risk of becoming infected, you should:
- practice good hand hygiene and safe food and water precautions at all times
- avoid eating food from bulging or damaged cans, foul-smelling preserved foods, foods stored at the incorrect temperature or out-of-date foods
- be careful if consuming food that has been home canned/preserved/cured (including honey from local unregulated suppliers) as these have occasionally been shown to be a source of infection
- avoid storing food whlst travelling unless you have access to refrigerator facilities - many cases of botulism are linked to foods that are improperly refrigerated prior to consumption
- seek urgent medical advice if you develop symptoms during or after travel