A rise in Salmonella typhimurium has prompted food safety organisations to issue guidance to the public on the safe handling and storage of raw meat, particularly lamb and mutton.
An increase in this strain of salmonella was detected in July last year and control measures were put in place that helped curb the number of cases.
The Food Standards Agency, FSA Scotland, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland are telling the public to take proper precautions when handling raw meat.
PHE National Infection Service deputy director, Nick Phin, said: ‘The likely cause of the increased numbers of this specific strain of Salmonella typhimurium is considered to be meat or cross-contamination with meat from affected sheep.’
Between July and November last year some 95 cases were identified across England, Scotland and Wales. Before July 2017, only two cases of the strain had been found in England.
From December last year to June 2018, following control measures being put into action, the number of cases declined and only 23 cases were found. But from June this year the number of cases detected has increased to 165.
Phin added: ‘People can be infected with Salmonella typhimurium in a number of ways, such as not cooking their meat properly, not washing hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, or through cross-contamination with other food, surfaces and utensils in the kitchen.'
No deaths have been linked to this outbreak, although there was one death last year in which a different strain of salmonella was thought to be a contributing factor.
FSA chief operating officer, Colin Sullivan, said: 'We are advising that care should be taken in preparing all meat, including lamb and mutton, to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with Salmonella typhimurium.
‘Our advice is to purchase food as normal but to take care when storing, handling and cooking raw meat.’