Australia: Unresolved egg problem


In the past week, a Salmonella outbreak was reported at the South Bank Surf Club in Brisbane, Australia where the restaurant was inspected after receiving some complaints from consumers who felt sick. After further investigation, it was found out that it was due to a bad batch of eggs which was provided by the supplier and the eggs were used in the sauces in seafood platter. As a major egg lover myself, it will be a terrible nightmare to know that you will end up sick eating your favorite food and not knowing the cause of it.

In Australia, despite an overall decline in the national rate of foodborne illness cases each year, the number of Salmonella– related food-poisoning cases continues to increase drastically, posing a health threat to the local community. According to the statistics shown by the Victoria’s Department of Health Figures, there has been a 50% increase in Salmonella-related food poisoning since 2012 along with a doubling of Salmonella poisoning cases occurring in the past 12 months in Queensland with 1895 reported cases so far. A table of past raw eggs related outbreak in Australia was carefully tabulated which shows recurring food outbreaks occurring year by year revolving around eggs. This also indirectly implies the fact that the existing intervention strategies to combat against Salmonella were not as efficient in the prevention of raw egg contamination.

For your information, Salmonella food-poisoning is one of the most common food-borne illnesses reported which is often associated with contaminated poultry products such as eggs. Salmonella can be naturally found in soil and water and contamination of Salmonella is prone to occur with unsanitary food handling and improper cooking of raw food items. Besides, ingestion of food contaminated with Salmonella can lead to salmonellosis which shows symptoms such as abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.

In conjunction to the recent outbreak which points upstream to the reservoir, studies have shown that some Salmonella serovars, especially Salmonella enterica serovar have the capacity of infecting developing eggs within the oviduct. Therefore, contaminated eggs which serve as an ecological amplifier could then facilitate the dissemination of Salmonella into the food chain and further leads to human transmission.

Besides the possibility of initial product contamination, it is also undeniable that proper food handling techniques are mandatory when it comes to the prevention of food contamination. To properly address that issue, new guidelines have been released by the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia New Zealand to spread more awareness and knowledge about the importance of proper food safety standards. In conclusion, I personally think that the Australian Government should properly educate the public about the importance of proper food handling techniques and how does it relate to foodborne illnesses. Also, strict policies in regard to proper food handling practices and maintenance of hygienic standards should be further enforced from farm to fork to minimize the occurrence of foodborne illnesses in Australia.

Please leave some comments on your thoughts on the increasing Salmonella outbreak cases in Australia. Thanks.

Yi Chen Teh