Norovirus outbreak reported in France

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Oyster Hong kong

Several cases of Norovirus (NoV) have been reported from eating oysters from a site in the South of France.

NoV was detected in oyster samples taken from various sites in L'Étang de Thau (Hérault).

Le Préfet de l’Hérault has temporarily suspended harvesting and marketing of oysters and mussels from this production sector.

The suspension will be lifted once sanitary conditions are met, it added.

Le Préfet de l’Hérault has not yet responded to our media request to clarify when the suspension will be lifted and how many people were affected.

Further distribution

Affected items were distributed to China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Luxembourg, Macao, Netherlands, Thailand, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates, according to the RASFF portal.

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said the import into and sale within Hong Kong of raw oysters harvested in the affected region had been prohibited with immediate effect.

A spokesman said it received a RASFF notification that raw oysters bred in the above-mentioned area were contaminated with norovirus.

“The French authorities concerned have therefore interdicted harvest and distribution of the affected products from the area from January 5 and a recall of the affected products harvested from December 20, 2016 to January 5, 2017 is underway,” ​he said.

“For the sake of prudence, the CFS has immediately banned the import into and sale within Hong Kong of all raw oysters harvested in the area concerned."

Some of the raw oysters had been imported into Hong Kong by importers - Gourmet Cuisine Hong Kong and the House of Fine Foods.

The CFS said 55kg and 27kg of the affected raw oysters had been imported respectively and all products had been sold or disposed of.

Le ministère de l’agriculture, de l’agroalimentaire et de la forêt withdrew and recalled all categories of mussels, oysters and clams harvested in L'Étang de Thau since 20 December earlier this month.

Oysters, mussels and clams harvested before this date or from other production areas are not affected by the market withdrawal.

Foodborne illness caused by NoV results in gastrointestinal symptoms within six to 48 hours of consumption.

Another oyster outbreak

Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident another foodborne outbreak due to Norovirus has been reported by the Netherlands and is suspected to be caused by live oysters imported from the Atlantic coast of France last December.

They were distributed to Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, according to RASFF.  

A spokesman for the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) told us analysis of stool samples from those who became ill revealed norovirus was the most probable cause.

"We know of four complaints brought to us by the retailer. Within these four complaints 18-20 people were reported as falling ill after eating oysters bought at that retailer. 

“The best before date of the oysters has expired so they are not on the market anymore.”

Most ill people were from the South East of The Netherlands, aged between 39 to 67 and fell ill between December 11 and January 4.

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