Outbreak of Disease Caused by Salmonella Typhimurium Associated with an Online MealSubscription Service in Toronto, Canada, 2016
Online food retail is an emerging business model that presents unique food safety challenges and potential risks. An outbreak of disease caused by Salmonella Typhimurium was detected in Toronto, Canada in July 2016. All six confirmed outbreak-associated cases had matching pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns and reported exposure to chicken meals obtained from an online meal subscription service. Food safety inspections and a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) audit at the kitchen where meals were prepared revealed inadequate cooling and cold-holding of meals prior to delivery to customer pickup points. Samples from control poultry meals were elevated for total coliforms and Gram-negative counts, consistent with time and temperature abuse at the food preparation kitchen. Almost 1,500 meals were voluntarily discarded by the manufacturer as a result of the audit, and production was halted. Given the potential for high-volume multi-jurisdictional online food sales and the associated risk of foodborne disease outbreaks, coordinated action is required to address this emerging issue and prevent future illness.
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