Sad aftermath of nationwide egg recall

By | March 23, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of hens are expected to be destroyed following an “exotic” strain of salmonella.

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand issued the warning yesterday that sparked a nationwide recall of popular eggs sold in Woolworths, Coles and other independent retailers.

So far it has left five people ill with salmonella, including two who were hospitalised in cases that are suspected to be linked to eating eggs from Bridgewater Poultry in Victoria.

The other three states affected are New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said it was possible hens at the farm would have to be destroyed to eliminate the source of the salmonella contamination.

Many have taken to social media to express their disappointment, saying the problem is in hygiene practices.

“Why kill the chickens? Have they been tested with salmonella? The eggs could have been contaminated in the washing process or from dirty equipment?” one person posted on Facebook.

“So why do chickens have to be destroyed it’s the egg not the chicken,” another added.

“If we all ditched eggs, this wouldn’t be a problem and so too would be the pain and suffering these poor chickens go through.”

Bridgewater Poultry has been blocked from operating while authorities investigate the outbreak. Its free-range and barn-laid eggs are packaged as Woolworths brand, Victorian Fresh, and Loddon Valley, with best-before dates ranging from March 20 to April 29.

University of Melbourne researcher Helen Crabb told the ABC all salmonella strains had the potential to be detected inside eggs, but the way eggs were handled was the greatest risk factor in salmonella poisoning.

“(If) you crack that egg on the side of the bowl and you drop that egg into the dish, whatever was on the outside of that shell might become part of the inside of the egg within a heartbeat,” Dr Crabb told the publication.

“So whether it’s on or in the egg doesn’t necessarily increase the risk absolutely.

“We don’t want to create panic over a food safety incident … absolutely we should make sure food is safe to eat, but what we need to do is make sure we educate people.”

The researcher said the outbreak should serve as a reminder to Australians to adopt proper food hygiene practices, including proper refrigeration and hard-boiling the eggs when cooking them.

The five cases of ill patients with salmonella enteritidis dates back to January and includes people ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s.

Dr Sutton said there could be more affected patients.

The symptoms include headaches, dehydration, nausea, fever and diarrhoea and in the most severe cases can lead to death.

An investigation is underway to reveal links between the Victorian and NSW outbreaks, and quarantine measures are in place at the Bridgewater farm where thousands of infected hens are expected to be destroyed, Nine reported.

Any people concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

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