Eggs Unblemished After Salmonella Scare

AUSTRALIA - The egg farm that had been implicated in the recent salmonella outbreak in Tasmania has been vindicated this week as an inquiry into the product supplied revealed that no contamination was found on any of the eggs tested.
calendar icon 19 February 2008
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An investigation and audit conducted on the facility this week has “not identified issues of food safety concern.”

James Kellaway, Managing Director of the Australian Egg Corporation asserts that “while egg farms can pose a risk to food safety, if eggs are produced, handled and stored incorrectly there are similar if not higher risks prevalent through the supply chain. Especially where eggs are cracked and used as an ingredient in food preparation in cafes, restaurants and comparable food service outlets. The egg industry is reliant on these businesses to store and handle eggs correctly”.

"Contamination was not found on any of the eggs tested, but Salmonella was found in a number of raw-egg products prepared by the caterer."
Alex Schaap, General Manager of Biosecurity and Product Integrity with the DPIW.

While egg producers are exposed to multiple audits and are required to have food safety plans in place, small businesses such as cafes, restaurants and alike, are not subject to equivalent scrutiny even though the food safety risks in these premises may be higher than on the farm where the eggs are produced.

A media statement released from the General Manager of Biosecurity and Product Integrity with the DPIW, Alex Schaap states that “Contamination was not found on any of the eggs tested, but Salmonella was found in a number of raw-egg products prepared by the caterer.” Nevertheless, at this time the source remains undetermined.

The Australian Egg Corporation is working directly with Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Departments of Primary Industries on both state and national levels to ensure food safety across the egg supply chain. Government and industry in cooperation recognise the need to emphasize education and training in food handling and storage within the food industry, with products that may be exposed to contamination having limited shelf life and handling principles to protect consumers.

Salmonella contaminates a variety of foods, including tomatoes, sprouts, meat, dairy, and eggs, and this can occur throughout numerous processes from farm to plate. Although the raw egg product has been identified as the source of last weeks outbreak in Tasmania, Dr Roscoe Taylor - the Director of Public Health in Tasmania, observed that “there remain several ways that a salmonella hazard could have entered the food chain” and that “eggs are a tremendous source of nutrition and perfectly safe if handled correctly.”

The egg industry will continue to improve its standards, training and food safety focus as a top priority and “we will continue to work closely with food safety regulators and provide our members with advice for safe practices” said Mr. Kellaway.

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