Authorities in Australia are investigating a Salmonella outbreak associated with human illness after eating eggs. The outbreak strain has been detected on chicken farms in New South Wales, and one farm in Victoria. Biosecurity measures and other regulatory action are being applied to affected farms by authorities.
Confirmed cases of Salmonella Enteritidis have been found in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. It is not clear how many people have been affected.
Agriculture Victoria placed controls on the business in that state, preventing the sale of eggs while the Salmonella contamination is investigated.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is leading the response by food regulators. The investigation has led to recalls coordinated by FSANZ in March this year and September 2018.
Bridgewater Poultry recalled certain eggs sold at Woolworths and independent stores in Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Coles in Victoria and South Australia.
Woolworths 12 Cage Free Eggs 700 gram, Victorian Fresh Barn Laid Eggs 600 gram, Victorian Fresh Barn Laid Eggs 700 gram, Victorian Fresh Barn Laid Eggs 800 gram and Loddon Valley Barn Laid 600 gram in Victoria and South Australia only are affected.
These products have best before dates of March 20, 23, 27 and 30 and April 3, 6, 10, 14, 17, 20, 24, 27 and 29, 2019.
A statement from Bridgewater Poultry Farm said Salmonella Enteritidis is not endemic in Australia so it was important to find out how the incident occurred.
“The health and safety of consumers is of the highest priority and Bridgewater Poultry Farm is working with the relevant government health and agricultural departments to investigate this incident at our site that may have been introduced through the purchase of interstate eggs,” said the company.
“As a precaution, the farm has been quarantined and strict measures to protect neighboring farms are in place. Regular Salmonella Enteritidis surveillance is conducted in Australia to ensure early detection, containment and eradication of any outbreak. Australia continues to have some of the safest eggs in the world and health authorities advise it is safe to continue eating all other eggs.”
One confirmed case in Tasmania occurred in February and the person has fully recovered, according to the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Brett Sutton, Victoria’s chief health officer, said it had identified five cases of illness which could be linked to the strain of Salmonella.
“People should avoid raw egg products particularly if they are vulnerable such as those with compromised immune systems, under two or over 70 years of age or pregnant,” he said.
“It is important to know that not all eggs are affected, but any eggs carrying the listed brands should return them to the point of sale for a full refund. Alternatively, they can be discarded by throwing them into the garbage, not the garden or compost.”
Last month, NSW Health and the NSW Food Authority identified that eggs from a second producer in the Sydney area were affected by Salmonella.
People were advised to check the stamps on eggs and if they were stamped BEC or BEC115 to throw them out to avoid a risk of food poisoning.
A total of 99 people became unwell with the outbreak strain which was first reported in May 2018, with a spike in cases in recent weeks.
In September last year, 28 cases of Salmonella Enteritidis were linked to contaminated eggs and eggs sold under by Eggz on the Run from the brand Glendenning Farms were recalled.
Salmonellosis symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. They usually start around six to 72 hours after the contaminated food is eaten and last for four to seven days but can continue for longer.
Meals on Wheels Listeria warning
Meanwhile, Meals on Wheels South Australia is recalling frozen meals due to Listeria.
Company officials said it aims to resume delivery of frozen meals as soon as possible in consultation with SA Health.
“Our routine food safety testing identified Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of roast lamb and vegetables prepared at our Kent Town kitchen. We’re working with SA Health and at this stage we understand the food safety risk may have come from a frozen vegetable source, but that is yet to be verified,” they said.
“We are asking customers to not consume any frozen meals they may have in their freezer or fridge. Our volunteers and staff are in the process of collecting these frozen meals for disposal.”
Soup and sweets, texture modified meals and hot meals for immediate consumption are not affected.
Last month, Meals on Wheels services in Victoria where supplied by a company linked to the death of an elderly woman in hospital who was diagnosed with listeriosis.
I Cook Foods of Dandenong South provided meals to this hospital and subsequent testing on food products from the company revealed six positive samples for Listeria.
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