Salmonella outbreaks in five locations across Queensland led to a call from the health minister for people to ‘stop playing Russian roulette’ with uncooked eggs and meat.
Three of the outbreaks have been linked to more than 30 confirmed cases from raw or undercooked egg in Brisbane.
A further 37 people were infected after consuming undercooked pork in Mount Isa.
Fancy a game?
Cameron Dick, health minister, said the foodborne bacteria can lead to death in those with weakened immune systems.
“While eggs are a great source of protein and are important for a healthy diet, if you eat them raw or undercooked, you really are playing Russian roulette with your health,” he said.
“Salmonella infection in healthy people usually leads to mild gastroenteritis symptoms, but for those with weakened immune systems, it can be deadly if not promptly treated.
“Queensland Health is also investigating a case in Cairns where at least four people have been infected by Salmonella of unknown origin.”
Around 5,000 cases of Salmonella are reported in Queensland each year.
More cases of salmonellosis are seen during warmer summer months.
Concerning infection rate
Dr Jeanette Young, chief health officer, said the rate of Salmonella infection in the state is concerning.
“We particularly urge people to be aware of safety when handling and consuming eggs, and urge consumers not to purchase or consume cracked, dirty or unstamped eggs, and to report any incidences to their local public health unit,” she said.
“Everyone should wash their hands before and after handling food to prevent the spread of bacteria.
“Restaurants and other food services should also protect their customers, and their reputations, by following safe food hygiene practices.
“This includes avoiding the use of cracked or dirty eggs and to only make small batches of foods containing raw eggs, and ensure strict temperature control of their food.”
Dr Young said the very young, elderly and people with weakened immune systems need to take particular care when consuming foods containing raw or lightly cooked eggs.
“When preparing food for an ‘at risk group’ all food service facilities should use safer alternatives to raw or undercooked eggs products such as using either eggs that have been treated to kill Salmonella, by pasteurisation or another approved method,” she said.
“I would encourage all food service facilities to avoid the supply of raw or lightly cooked egg or egg based food to hospital and aged care facilities such as mayonnaise, aioli, custard, cheesecake, eggnog, deep fried ice-cream and mousse.”