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Outbreak of acute vomiting with diarrhoea in children and youths over, cause identified

32/2012, 08.10.2012

Joint press release by the BfR, BVL and RKI

Since the weekend, no new cases of illness have been recorded in connection with the foodborne outbreak of acute vomiting and diarrhoea. The epidemiological studies undertaken by the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI) have identified a batch of deep-frozen strawberries as the probable cause of the outbreak. Closely cooperating with the competent authorities of the federal states, the institute has succeeded in systematically taking the source of the outbreak off the market. It is therefore safe to say that the outbreak is over. The scientific investigation into how the outbreak unfolded continues at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

There is hardly any doubt left that the outbreak of acute gastroenteritis in five East German federal states is now over. The peak of new cases (defined as the beginning of illness) was between 25 and 27 September 2012. From Saxony, a few outbreaks in community institutions for children were still reported at the end of last week. They too are associated with the identified batch of deep-frozen strawberries. As far as is currently known, no new cases of illness have occurred since the weekend.

Epidemiological studies of the RKI which were conducted in coordination with the competent authorities at the local and national level showed that dishes made from deep-frozen strawberries in all probability caused the outbreak. Thereafter, the task force at the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) was able to narrow down its investigation of the delivery paths to one specific batch of deep-frozen strawberries. Some of these berries had been served without being heated prior to consumption. This batch was thus identified as the cause of the outbreak.

Since then, the Office of Consumer Protection of Saxony-Anhalt has, on behalf of the Ministry of Consumer Protection of Saxony, for the first time detected noroviruses in a sample from this batch of deep-frozen strawberries as well.

In total, over 11,000 cases of illness occurred as part of what has so far been Germany’s largest foodborne outbreak of gastroenteritis, with several hundred institutions affected. In a considerable proportion of tested patients, noroviruses were found.

Point of contact:

RKI on the case figures and the epidemiological studies conducted
Press centre of the RKI
Phone: 030-18754 2562 / 2239

BVL on backtracking and food pathways
Press centre of the BVL
Phone: 030/18444-00211

The BfR on questions of food safety
Press centre of the BfR
Phone: 030/18412-4300

About the BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.



Date Title Size
BfR Opinion No. 038/2012
Tenacity (resistance) of noroviruses in strawberry compote 75.1 KB


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