New case of botulism after consuming pre-packaged tortilla in Andalucia

by Lorraine Williamson
botulism in tortilla

BENALMÁDENA – In an outbreak of botulism associated with packaged potato omelettes sold in various supermarkets across the country, the second case in Andalucia has been registered in Benalmádena on the Costa del Sol. 

According to the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs of Andalucia, it concerns a suspected case – not yet confirmed – in a 66-year-old person residing in Benalmádena, who displayed symptoms on July 14, without requiring hospitalisation. The samples have been sent to the National Centre for Microbiology for examination and evaluation. 

Also read: How to make Spanish tortilla 

This investigation adds to that of a 27-year-old person residing in Malaga who showed mild symptoms in early July. He was not hospitalised either. The government has emphasised the “fundamental” work of the Surveillance Network, under the General Directorate of Public Health, in the early detection of potential cases. 

What is botulism? 

Botulism is a severe but relatively rare disease caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum. There are three clinical forms of botulism: classic or foodborne botulism, intestinal botulism, and wound botulism. All of them result in flaccid paralysis due to the action of botulinum toxin on the neuromuscular junction. 

Five confirmed cases 

Until last Thursday, the Spanish Food Safety Authority (Aesan) reported seven cases with a history of consuming pre-packaged tortillas in the days leading up to the onset of symptoms, of which five were confirmed by laboratory tests with an onset date of symptoms between June 24 and July 10. The cases occurred in several autonomous communities. Aesan has provided all available information to the contact points of the communities so that they can conduct the necessary investigations regarding the products possibly consumed in any of the cases. 

Also read: Which six tortillas available in Spanish supermarkets are the best? 

Cogesa Expats

In at least three of the confirmed cases and one of the possible cases, the same company producing the potato omelettes is involved. However, so far, no evidence has been found, neither in the products nor in the processes, to establish a cause-effect relationship. Nevertheless, the investigations continue in collaboration with the production company. 

Product recall 

The Palacios Alimentación Group has voluntarily decided to withdraw the packaged fresh potato omelettes from the shelves of retail outlets, as well as temporarily suspend their production, as this product has been associated with confirmed cases of botulism in recent days. 

The company has taken all necessary measures to identify a possible cause. The facilities have already been inspected four times by health authorities with a positive result. 

The company has asked everyone who purchased any of these products (Palacios, Chef Select, Auchan, Eroski, Unide, Consum, DIA, Ametller, Condis, El Corte Inglés, Carrefour, Alipende, Grupo IFA, and Rikissimo) not to consume them and to return them to the point of sale where they were purchased, where they will be reimbursed. 

Note that if you buy packaged tortilla in the supermarket, you should keep it refrigerated. If you want to take a tortilla to the beach, always store it in a cooler or insulated bag with ice packs. Due to the hot weather, tortillas are susceptible to the growth of microorganisms, and at these temperatures, they can multiply quickly. 

Also read: Alarm bells are ringing in Spain: Is consuming pre-packaged tortilla safe? 

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