Previous outbreaks involving fresh produce

The table below provides information on significant food safety outbreaks that have occurred globally, mostly within the last 20 years. The list is intended to be used as reference material which can form the basis of any decision as to whether the crop being assessed has a history of causing foodborne illness. It is recommended that if a crop has an entry in the table below, it should be considered as having a prior history of causing foodborne illness.

It is important to note that when foodborne illness outbreaks are investigated, it is common for no contaminated food to be unequivocally identified. More often than not, an association is made with a particular type of fresh produce. It is difficult to prove direct cause as fresh produce can have a shelf life that is shorter than the incubation period of the illness. Thus, when an outbreak occurs, there is no longer a sample of produce available for testing. The notable exceptions are frozen berries, which partly explains their high profile in the list below. The product column in the table below lists the most likely source of an outbreak as decided by the outbreak investigators. Where the infectious agent is a virus such as norovirus or hepatitis, the primary contamination source is likely to be an infected human that has handled the produce. It is rare, but not unheard of, for viruses to cross infect between species.