Salmonella tainted eggs cause illness in hundreds of people

December 9, 2016

Hundreds of people in 10 different countries have been found to be suffering from Salmonella Enteritidis due to contaminated eggs.

360 people are known to have been affected by the outbreak, which has been traced to eggs from a producer in Poland. So far, it is believed to have caused one death.

According to the European Food Safety Authority, it was thought that the outbreak had run its course after 260 cases in 7 countries were identified between May and October 2016. However, authorities now believe it actually started in 2012.

Product recalls of the tainted eggs were announced throughout Europe and Hong Kong. This case begs the question, are international trade regulations tough enough?

This food-borne illness outbreak is a timely reminder of the caution that is required when dealing with eggs and egg products. In Australia, at the start of this year, there was much debate in the industry as to whether or not eggs must be refrigerated to reduce the risk of bacteria like Salmonella growing and reaching harmful levels. Despite the FSANZ’s statement advising that refrigeration is not necessary, should we be erring on the side of caution?

There are still numerous government authorities and food safety experts, including the Food Safety Information Council and the NSW Food Authority, who advocate refrigerating eggs, so while it might not yet be a legal requirement for retail food businesses, we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Remember to practise good food safety when handling eggs, for example:
  • Ensure that eggs are not cracked, stained, or dirty
  • Always buy eggs in a carton, not from a bulk “self-serve” stand
  • Choose smaller eggs – the larger the egg, the thinner the shell and the more prone to cracking
  • Keep eggs in the refrigerator so that they can last longer
  • Keep eggs in the carton so that you will not miss the “best before” date
  • After handling eggs, always wash your hands, counters, and any work areas that the raw eggs touched
  • Anytime you cook with eggs, make sure you cook the foods thoroughly

It’s also recommended to buy instead of make your own raw egg products, like aioli and mayonnaise.

As we head into summer and the temperatures continue to rise across the country, so will the number of food poisoning cases.

“The hotter the day, the increase in bacteria activity,” said Ms Williams from the Food Safety Information Council.

And remember: The elderly, children, and pregnant women should never eat raw eggs because the bacteria can be especially dangerous to them.