Australia’s food industry is one of the best in the world, with some of the most stringent food handling and food safety regulations so when we hear about serious food poisoning incidents that sickening hundreds and even claim lives it does seem real.
The outbreak which resulted in 220 people being infected with Salmonella apparently due to a batch of contaminated eggs recently was linked to Melbourne Cup functions in Brisbane. One woman died while another 220 fell ill after eating the contaminated eggs.
The outbreak led to the hospitalisation of at least 7 people, making this one of the worst outbreaks we have seen in Oz recently.
The outbreak is an example of how serious food poisoning threats are to certain vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women, the already sick and the elderly because a 77 year old woman died after she contracted Salmonella poisoning because of the outbreak.
One of the reasons why this outbreak occurred was because the eggs infected with the Salmonella were eaten raw. The company responsible, Piccalilli Catering explained that it had used the eggs to make fresh mayonnaise for 40 functions at the Melbourne Cup in the city last week.
Raw eggs are one of the greatest sources of Salmonella although in Oz we often believe that our egg production is safe enough to eat uncooked. Piccalilli Catering has since dropped the wholesaler responsible for the eggs.
An article on SkyNews.co.au explains
Metro North Hospital and Health Services says up to 700 people could have been exposed to the bacteria and it urged people showing symptoms of the infection to seek medical attention.
Director Dr Susan Vlack said people should be vigilant even if they had not yet been ill. She said some people could become sick up to two weeks after exposure.
‘The next few days is the time to be aware,’ Dr Vlack said.
None of the seven people hospitalised were critically ill, but two were reasonably sick, she said.
She has written to all companies and private function co-ordinators who used Piccalilli to advise them of the situation.
Salmonella is often spread in foods like meat, poultry and eggs when they are undercooked or uncooked. The cooking process kills the Salmonella bacteria and stops them making people sick however certain dishes call for raw or undercooked meat or eggs which can be risky to your health.
A person who is infected by Salmonella poisoning suffers from symptoms like fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms may last between 4 to 7 days and in some extreme cases can result in hospitalisation and possibly death.
As this outbreak proves, most people will recover in a few days but young children and the elderly are particularly at risk and often suffer more severely and sometimes fatally than other healthy adults.
The post goes on to explain:
‘There were no cases at all evident until three days after the Cup and gradually cases have been presenting,’ Dr Vlack said.
Piccalilli Catering co-owner Helen Grace says the company is distressed at the outbreak and has launched its own probe.
‘We feel very disappointed and let down that the normally reliable fresh food supply chain has failed us and our clients on this occasion,’ she said in a statement posted online.