Minister Warns Of Salmonella Outbreaks

Minister Warns Of Salmonella Outbreaks

Queensland Minister for Health Cameron Dick

Stop Playing Russian Roulette With Raw Egg

Victor P Taffa

Salmonella outbreaks in 5 locations across the state have prompted a warning to Queenslanders to stop playing Russian roulette with uncooked eggs and meat.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said more than 70 people were infected by the five outbreaks of the food-borne bacteria, which can lead to death in those with weakened immune systems.

“While eggs are a great source of protein and are important for a healthy diet, if you eat them raw or undercooked, you really are playing Russian roulette with your health.” Mr. Dick said.

“Salmonella infection in healthy people usually leads to mild gastroenteritis symptoms, but for those with weakened immune systems, it can be deadly if not promptly treated.”

Mr. Dick said 3 of the current outbreaks across the State have been linked to more than 30 confirmed cases from raw or undercooked egg in Brisbane, while a further 37 people were infected after consuming undercooked pork in Mount Isa.

“Queensland Health is also investigating a case in Cairns where at least four people have been infected by salmonella of unknown origin.” Mr. Dick said.

“Around 5,000 cases of Salmonella are reported in Queensland each year. All of these are completely avoidable if more attention is paid to careful food preparation and cooking.”

“Let’s eat eggs, but let’s eat them the right way. There’s no need to hatch a plan, Queensland Health already has factsheets with very simple tips available on their website.”

Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeanette Young said the rate of Salmonella infection in Queensland is concerning.

“We particularly urge people to be aware of safety when handling and consuming eggs, and urge consumers not to purchase or consume cracked, dirty or unstamped eggs, and to report any incidences to their local Public Health Unit.” Dr. Young said.

“Everyone should wash their hands before and after handling food to prevent the spread of bacteria.”

“Restaurants and other food services should also protect their customers, and their reputations, by following safe food hygiene practices.” Dr. Young said.

“This includes avoiding the use of cracked or dirty eggs and to only make small batches of foods containing raw eggs, and ensure strict temperature control of their food.”

Dr. Young said the very young, elderly and people with weakened immune systems needed to take particular care when consuming foods containing raw or lightly cooked eggs.

“When preparing food for an ‘at risk group’ all food service facilities should use safer alternatives to raw or undercooked eggs products such as using either eggs that have been treated to kill Salmonella, by pasteurisation or another approved method.” Dr. Young said.

“I would encourage all food service facilities to avoid the supply of raw or lightly cooked egg or egg based food to hospital and aged care facilities such as mayonnaise, aioli, custard, cheesecake, eggnog, deep fried ice-cream and mousse.”

“We are currently distributing 30,000 food safety resource packs to the food services industry to help ensure they have all the information they need. We expect them to ensure the safety of consumers is a top priority for them.” Dr. Young said.

Avoid catching a side of Salmonella with your Sunday brunch

  • Salmonella is a food borne bacteria causing approximately 5,000 reported cases each year in Queensland.
  • More cases of salmonellosis are seen during summer.
  • Symptoms of Salmonella infection include headache, fever, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Consumption of ready-to-eat foods containing raw eggs has been identified as a major cause of Salmonella infections.

Statistics surrounding Queensland cases of Salmonella:

  • Total Salmonella notifications for 2015 = 5,418 cases
  • Total Salmonella notifications for 2016 = 4,823 cases
  • 5 year average (2012 – 2016) = 4,217 cases
  • Hospitalisations in 2015 = 878
  • Hospitalisations in 2016 (Jan-Nov) = 676