02:15 GMT +318 June 2019
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    An analytical chemist shows a petri dish with salmonella in the Institute for Chemical and Veterinary Research in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany

    Deadly Salmonella Outbreak Traced to Bavarian Egg Farm

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    Despite visiting the infected farm on a number of occasions, finding salmonella and seeing an unusual amount of dead chickens, Bavarian health authorities took no action, leading to widespread illness and multiple deaths across Europe last summer.

    An outbreak of salmonella which led to hundreds of people falling ill across Europe last summer, and was linked to several deaths, has been traced back to contaminated eggs from a farm in Bavaria, German media has revealed.

    The farm is owned by the Bayern Ei company, one of Germany's largest egg producers which operates four chicken factories, where hens lay some one million eggs a day.

    At the farm in question, in the southern region of Lower Bavaria, where hundreds of chickens were being found dead each day, company bosses initially told employees the death rate was due to chickens dying from heat. 

    According to the investigation carried out by reporters from Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung and Bayerischen Rundfunk, the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authorities knew about the presence of salmonella at the farm, having found evidence of the infection in two separate investigations. 

    However, the authorities turned a blind eye and took no action to take products from the farm off the market, since "the responsible customer" is aware that "eggshells are not sterile," and should wash their hands after handling an egg.

    The outbreak of salmonella in summer 2014 caused at least 287 people in the UK to fall ill after eating contaminated eggs, and at least 151 in Austria, while dozens of cases were also reported in France, Germany and Luxembourg. The illness was implicated in the deaths of another two people.  

    Despite people falling ill from the same rare PT14b salmonella strain which had been found at the farm, alleges the report, Bavarian authorities did not take action until French authorities on July 9 raised the alarm through a rapid alert system to all European counterparts of a "foodborne salmonella outbreak," listing the code of the egg carton from which one family was known to have fallen ill, revealing the source of the eggs.

    One month later, the Bavarian authorities sent samples from the farm for testing, and found PT14 on the eggshells. "No further action" was warranted though, decided the authorities, since "depopulation," or killing of the potentially infected chickens at the farm, whose live and laying cycle had come to an end, had already begun.

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