Current data suggests that more than 5 million Australians are struck down with food poisoning each year. But despite this worrying figure, the overall number of food poisoning cases is actually falling – with regards to everything but salmonella.
According to figures published last year by the Victorian Department of Health, cases of salmonella poisonings in the state have increased at least 50% since 2012. And even more worrying, Queensland’s Department of Health reported a doubling in the rate of salmonella cases for a twelve month period spanning 2014-15.
How salmonella poisoning happens
Although most people associate salmonella bacteria with chickens, livestock, and poorly cooked egg products, it’s important to remember that salmonella has also been responsible for outbreaks in food safety associated with fresh produce.
Salmonella can be found in water and soil, and will multiply rapidly in ideal environments – particularly when there is moisture, and warmth. When it comes to fresh produce, it’s often the growing process that’s the issue. The environment that the food is grown in allows bacteria to contaminate it early on in the food supply chain.
Also, when food products are not properly handled, prepared or stored, with regards to temperature control and cross-contamination especially, the risk of salmonella contamination increases.
The worrying increase in the number of salmonella cases throughout Australia is one of the many reasons why the independent centre for fresh produce safety within Australia and New Zealand, has issued new guidelines for people involved in food industries.