At least 50 hospitalised in Moscow with rare food poisoning

Russian authorities said the toxic outbreak came from salads distributed by a popular online delivery service

By AFP

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Published: Mon 17 Jun 2024, 3:30 PM

A suspected outbreak of a rare and extremely dangerous food poisoning in Moscow left more than 120 people seeking medical help and at least 30 in intensive care, health officials said on Monday.

The patients were admitted to hospital with suspected food-borne botulism, a life-threatening condition that attacks the nervous system and can cause respiratory failure and paralysis.


Russian authorities said the toxic outbreak came from salads distributed by a popular online delivery service, which on Sunday temporarily suspended its operations amid a criminal investigation.

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"In total 121 people sought medical help," state news agencies quoted Anastasia Rakova, the deputy mayor of Moscow, as saying on Monday.

"At the moment 55 people are in a serious condition, 30 of them in intensive care," she added.

The city's consumer and health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, said on Saturday it was conducting an "epidemiological investigation into suspected cases of botulism".

The Moscow prosecutor's office said it had launched a criminal investigation into a breach of consumer safety standards.

Deputy Mayor Rakova said there was "no threat to the lives" of those who had been hospitalised thanks to timely medical intervention.

According to the World Health Organisation, food-borne botulism cases can be fatal without rapid treatment with antitoxins.

Botulism is an extremely rare condition, typically caused by improperly processed food and linked to canned and preserved goods. It does not pass between people.

The food delivery company linked to the outbreak, Kuchnia Na Rayone ("local kitchen"), said it had identified a "potential risk incident" with a salad that used tinned beans, and it had suspended orders.

There were 82 confirmed cases of botulism across the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2021, the last year of available data, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

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