The number of people ill in a Salmonella outbreak linked to a brand of frozen microwave meals in Australia has jumped to 46.

Public health investigations have found that sick people in New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) reported consuming the products.

Fifteen Salmonella Weltevreden infections have been recorded in NSW, 12 in Queensland, 11 in South Australia, six in Western Australia and two in ACT. Previously, 15 people were part of the outbreak from NSW, South Australia and ACT.

Production halted
The cause of contamination is still under investigation. Core Powerfoods is assisting authorities in an investigation to confirm the source of the outbreak and has temporarily halted production.

Salmonella will not grow in frozen meals, however it may survive the freezing temperature. If food is thawed incorrectly, such as at room temperature, it will have an opportunity to grow, and if it is not reheated too above 75 degrees C (167 degrees F), it will not be killed, according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Core Ingredients had recalled eight frozen pre-prepared meals with best before dates from Aug. 26, 2020, to Oct. 4, 2020. This has now been extended to include earlier best before dates beginning March 5, 2020.

Items were sold at IGA’s and Coles nationally, independent retailers in NSW, ACT, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, NT and Western Australia, and a few Woolworths metro stores in Victoria.

Core Powerfoods frozen meals in a 310 or 350-gram pack size of the variety Going Nuts, Deep South Chilli, Muay Thai Meatballs, Holy Meatballs, Naked Chicken, Seismic Chicken, Old School and Smokey Mountain Meatballs are affected.

Renewed warning
NSW Health reiterated a warning for consumers to return or dispose of Core Powerfoods frozen microwave meals.

Keira Glasgow, NSW Health Enteric and Zoonotic Diseases Manager, advised consumers not to eat the products, and either throw them away or return items to the place of purchase for a refund as proof of purchase is not required for recalled food.

“Salmonellosis can be quite severe and people sometimes have to be hospitalized to manage dehydration, particularly in young babies, 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.”

Glasgow said frozen food should always be cooked thoroughly following manufacturer instructions.

“Microwaves are a quick and convenient way to cook food, however, if they are not used correctly, they can cook food unevenly. When using a microwave to cook food, make sure the food is heated until it is piping hot all the way through.”

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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