Health minister rules out salmonella appearance

9th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 August 2005, MADRID – Spain's health and consumer minister has shrugged off demands to appear before MPs over the salmonella scare which has infected more than 2,000 people.

9 August 2005

MADRID – Spain's health and consumer minister has shrugged off demands to appear before MPs over the salmonella scare which has infected more than 2,000 people.

On Tuesday, Elena Salgado told the radio programme 'Onda Cero' that she had requested that the director of the Food Safety Agency gives MPs a report on the Sada roast chicken saga.

The conservative PP party has demanded Salgado appear before Congress, accusing her of badly handling the crisis and showing little leadership.

However, Salgado said it would be up to Congress to decide whether she or the head of the food agency should appear.

The minister also said the contamination of the Sada roast chickens was due to the firm's failure to carry out its own checks.

"Companies have to carry out their own checks permanently because even if inspections are frequent they cannot be as assiduous," she said.

"In this case, the internal check of the company failed."

Salgado said Sada would have to take responsibility for the epidemic and it would be up to the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha – where the company is based – to determine the extent of its responsibility.

"We will be told of the result of that report and the penalty which they decide," said the minister.

Salgado has been criticised by some of the conservative-run regions where the crisis had hit. Mallorca's government accused her of "doing too little too late".

The minister, though, insisted that the epidemic had been controlled since its outbreak on 28 July which had avoided more people falling ill. She said immediately the cause of the salmonella outbreak had been identified and the withdrawal of 190,000 products which were suspected of being infected had been ordered.

The National Network of Epidemiological Control has recorded the total number of people infected as 2,138, a figure which is predicted to remain stable. Some 33 patients are still in hospital due to infection.

The epidemic has claimed the life of one 90-year-old man.

According to Salgado, the system of alert had worked "correctly", however, she added: "We must shorten the reaction times and increase the speed". "The alert reached the department of health "when the majority of those infected already had the infection".

The minister has announced she is to add salmonella poisoning to a list of diseases which must be declared and said any outbreak is to be declared urgently.

Regional governments are to be issued with a protocol for passing on cases of food safety issues. The protocol will include ways to ensure that food safety warnings reach people who don't use speak Spanish and to involve the distributors since shops are often the first to hear that a product is in a poor condition.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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