More than 7,000 birds on eight poultry farms in Ireland to be culled due to salmonella outbreak

FSAI confirms link to chicken products recalled from supermarket shelves last week

A large salmonella outbreak on eight poultry farms around the country has resulted in more than 7,000 birds having to be culled to ensure potentially-infected chicken products do not enter the food chain.

Due to the risk to human health from the bacteria, restrictions have been applied in the vicinity of the farms, most of which are in Co Cavan.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is working with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in an effort to curb the outbreak and to determine its cause.

The FSAI has confirmed that incidences of salmonella infection in broiler flocks were linked to a raw-chicken food recall it issued last week, when some poultry products were removed from supermarket shelves.


The department said it was working closely with the FSAI and the National Reference Laboratory for Salmonella to determine how the outbreak caused by salmonella typhimurium arose in a number of different areas at the same time.

Following the recall, testing was increased at processing units and commercial poultry flocks around the country in an effort to determine if outbreaks arose from the one source. Augmented testing is to continue over coming days including “whole genome sequencing” to identify particular bacterial strains in circulation and establish if there is a link.

In a statement, the FSAI said it was liaising with DAFM in its investigation. “To date, there are no human cases of illness linked to this investigation into the broiler flocks. This on-farm incident has arisen following the food recall of western Brand undertaken last week.”

The FSAI has been notified by the department that affected flocks “will be culled and will not enter the food chain”.

It is understood the salmonella was detected in a processing facility, which prompted a check back to supplier farms.

IFA poultry chairman Nigel Sweetman said the outbreak was “devastating for the flock owners concerned”. The affected flocks were restricted and there was no threat to human health, he added.

The authorities were working to deal with the situation as quickly and effectively as possible, he noted, and asked poultry owners to review their biosecurity measures and to be extra vigilant.

On January 24th, Western Brand recalled expired batches of raw chicken products listed in the table below due to the detection of salmonella typhimurium. It placed recall notices at point-of-sale. Consumers were advised not to eat the affected batches.

The products had been supplied to Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Dunnes Stores and Glenmore (BWG) – and included chicken fillets, chicken legs, chicken wings, boned chicken breasts, whole chickens and products with stuffing.

People infected with salmonella typically develop symptoms between 12 and 36 hours after infection, but this can range up to three days. The most common symptom is diarrhoea, which can sometimes be bloody. Other symptoms may include fever, headache and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. Diarrhoea can occasionally be severe enough to require hospital admission. Older people; infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

Director of UCD Centre for Food Safety Prof Seamus Fanning told RTE’s Six One News that consumers needed at this time to be particularly careful in cooking raw chicken and in separating raw and cooked foods. Eggs were not a concern with this outbreak because of effective control measures in place.

Feed was the obvious potential source of infection, he added, but more extensive checks were required.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times