Egg farmers have moved to re-assure consumers after five people contracted an “exotic” strain of salmonella after eating eggs from brands sold across the country.
Victoria’s chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton described the salmonella enteritidis strain that has infected five people aged from their 20s to their 80s as “the cane toad of salmonella”.
“It is not a normal organism found in eggs in Victoria, indeed Australia,” he said.
The affected eggs, which originated from one Victorian farm – Bridgewater Poultry – are sold under various labels, including Woolworths’ own-brand free-range and barn-laid eggs.
The potentially affected brands are Victorian Fresh Barn Laid Eggs in 600, 700 and 800-gram varieties, and Loddon Valley Barn Laid 600-gram eggs. They were sold in Woolworths and independent supermarkets in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT and in Coles outlets in Victoria and South Australia.
Affected eggs have best-before dates ranging from March 20 to April 29.
The Department of Health and Human Services, along with Agriculture Victoria inspectors, identified the salmonella strain at the central Victorian farm during a routine check on Monday.
Quarantine measures were imposed and thousands of affected hens are expected to be destroyed.
Dr Sutton said a national investigation is underway after the Victorian cases were suspected to be linked to properties in NSW which were contaminated last year. to determine how they might
But Egg Farmers of Australia spokesman John Coward said on Friday the outbreak was isolated and the majority of eggs were still safe to eat.
Salmonella might be present in eggs from time to time, as all warm-blooded animals can carry the bacteria in their intestines, he told ABC radio on Friday.
“If varying strains of salmonella are present, in this case we have quite a nasty one, then the chance of it getting through a very small percentage and contaminating some eggs is there – and that’s what happened,” he said.
“We are seeing an isolated outbreak. But there was an outbreak in NSW last year.”
⚠️ Food recall ⚠️ Bridgewater Poultry is recalling various barn laid eggs and cage free eggs in ACT, NSW, Vic., Tas., and SA. The recall is due to potential Salmonella Enteriditis contamination https://t.co/XoaQSF8D1a #FoodRecallAu #FSANZ #FoodRecall #SalmonellaSE pic.twitter.com/NYVDl3a8C9
— FoodStandardsAusNZ (@FSANZnews) 20 March 2019
FSANZ also issued a recall for some Meals on Wheels frozen meals on Thursday, suspecting listeria contamination.
Salmonella is a gastro infection that mostly comes from eating undercooked or raw contaminated meat, poultry and eggs. It can also be transmitted from person to person.
Its symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting, and can appear anywhere between six and 72 hours after a person comes into contact with the bacteria. They usually last between four and seven days.
In young children, the elderly and people with lowered immune systems, it can cause serious illness and has the potential to be fatal.
Anyone who is concerned about their health after eating the potentially contaminated products is urged to seek medical attention immediately.