A brand of frozen microwave meals has been linked to a Salmonella outbreak in Australia.

Core Ingredients has recalled a range of frozen pre-prepared meals after at least 10 New South Wales (NSW) residents fell ill with Salmonella infections after consuming the products. Those sick live across NSW, in greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle, Northern NSW and the Murrumbidgee.

Three South Australians have also developed Salmonella infections after eating the meals sold nationally from August to September. The other two infected people live in the Australian Capital Territory.

Salmonella Weltevreden infections
​NSW Health urged consumers who have any Core Powerfoods frozen microwave meals to dispose of them or return them for a refund. Any people concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

The agency is working with other states and territories to investigate infections of the unusual Salmonella type, Salmonella Weltevreden, that are thought to be associated with the products but the cause of contamination is still under investigation.

NSW Health’s executive director of health protection, Dr. Jeremy McAnulty said salmonellosis can be severe and people sometimes have to be hospitalized to manage dehydration, particularly young children, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems.

“It is important that people do not prepare food for others while they are unwell with salmonellosis and as a precaution for 48 hours after symptoms have passed,” he said.

Microwave cooking warning
McAnulty said food must be cooked thoroughly to kill Salmonella and while microwaves are quick and convenient, if they are not used correctly, they can cook food unevenly.

“Frozen food may not be ready to eat and should always be cooked thoroughly following manufacturer instructions. The longer food is left at room temperature the more the Salmonella bacteria will multiply. Refrigerated food should be kept at less than 5 degrees Celsius and hot food should be kept above 60 degrees Celsius,” he said.

Core Powerfoods frozen meals 310-gram or 350-gram packages of Going Nuts, Deep South Chilli, Muay Thai Meatballs, Holy Meatballs, Naked Chicken, Seismic Chicken, Old School, and Smokey Mountain Meatballs with best before dates from Aug. 26, 2020, to Oct. 4, 2020, have been recalled.

Going Nuts contains crunchy satay chicken with rice and green beans; Deep South Chilli is American-style beef and chilli with rice and green beans; Muay Thai Meatballs has chicken meatballs with Thai curry sauce, rice and green beans; Holy Meatballs is lean beef meatballs with tomato sauce and wholemeal penne; Naked Chicken has chicken tenderloin with green beans and broccoli; Seismic Chicken includes honey sesame chicken with broccoli and green beans; Old School is Portuguese-style chicken with sweet potato and green beans and Smokey Mountain Meatballs has hickory smoked meatballs with rice and green beans.

They were available for sale at IGAs in NSW, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Victoria and Northern Territory (NT); independent retailers in NSW, ACT, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, NT and Western Australia; and Coles nationally, according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Jake Richardson, Core Powerfoods director, apologized for any inconvenience or distress caused.

“As soon as we were informed of a potential link with our product we have acted immediately to conduct a full, voluntary recall. We are assisting authorities as they attempt to confirm the source of this outbreak and have placed a temporary halt on production,” he said.

Salmonellosis symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. They usually start around six to 72 hours after contaminated food is eaten and last for four to seven days, but can continue for longer.

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