Nearly 90 people are part of a Salmonella outbreak across Australia after eating a particular brand of frozen microwave meals.
A total of 84 people in New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) reported eating Core Powerfoods products before becoming sick.
The number of people ill in the Salmonella Weltevreden outbreak previously stood at 46.
Core Ingredients issued a recall in October. Products were available for sale at IGAs and Coles stores nationally, independent retailers in NSW, ACT, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and some Woolworths metro stores in Victoria.
Affected varieties of Core Powerfoods frozen meals are the 310- or 350-gram pack sizes with best-before dates from March 5, 2020, to Oct. 4, 2020. Products include Going Nuts, Deep South Chili, Muay Thai Meatballs, Holy Meatballs, Naked Chicken, Seismic Chicken, Old School and Smokey Mountain Meatballs.
Going Nuts includes crunchy satay chicken with rice and green beans, Deep South Chili has American-style beef and chili with rice and green beans, Muay Thai Meatballs is chicken meatballs with Thai curry sauce, rice and green beans while 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 is hickory smoked meatballs with rice and green beans.
The cause of contamination is unknown and an investigation is ongoing, according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
The agency urged consumers who have purchased these meals to check their freezers and throw products away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund.
Salmonella will not grow in frozen meals, however it can 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 heated thoroughly at above 75 degrees C (167 degrees F), the bacteria will not be killed.
About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.
Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.
Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.
Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.
Food safety advice during bush fires
Meanwhile, the Food Safety Information Council has issued advice for consumers about bush fires and power outages. Australia has been hit by an early and extreme bush fire season because of high temperatures and drought with at least 25 people and millions of animals thought to have died.
Lydia Buchtmann, FSIC communication director, said the council has been coping with consumer enquiries about what to do with food during the emergency.
“One of the dangers of a fire can be toxic fumes from burning materials. Chemicals used to fight the fire can also contain toxic materials. The heat from a fire can cause bacteria in food to multiply,” she said.
“If your power has gone out your food will remain safe in your refrigerator for two hours. If it has been more than four hours, throw the food out. The best option is to keep the refrigerated foods as cold as possible by not opening the door unless necessary to remove food to eat or check the temperature after two hours or place items in the freezer.
“Also remember to throw out food that was being cooked when the power failed if cooking cannot be completed properly within two hours. If food is already properly cooked, eat it within two hours or throw it out.”
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