Greens Still Searching for Cracks in Egg Business

AUSTRALIA - The Tasmanian Greens continue to vindicate an Australian farm that has been found guilty in a salmonella inquest. The Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL) say that their actions hold little regard for the consequences of risk to public safety or to small business.
calendar icon 25 February 2008
clock icon 5 minute read

According to the AECL, Nick McKim's unrelenting attacks on a small Tasmanian egg farmer who has, so far, been found blameless of any animal welfare or food safety issues in relation to the recent Salmonella outbreak are unfounded and unsubstantiated. Mr McKim persistently ignores other high risk areas such as the issues of safe food handling, cross contamination and supplementary elements involved in the food supply chain that are required to ensure public safety.

Little interest has been paid to the restrictions that have been put on the egg farmer by the Department of Primary Industries Water (DPIW), by having warning labels attached to each egg carton cautioning the buyer against using them for raw egg product. All the while the café in question, where the Salmonella poisoning was detected and identified, continues to serve the public with no retraining, education or penalty for their potential involvement in the outbreak.

"If the Greens are genuinely interested in the health and safety of Tasmanians, I would strongly encourage them to join the egg industry"
Managing Director of the Australia Egg Corporation, James Kellaway.

The Greens unyielding battering of egg farmers illustrate little concern for the preservation of public safety in relation to food poisoning or food borne illness and it suggests that they are following their own preset anti-cage agenda. Mr McKim uses the extraneous and irrelevant opinions of Dr Obendorf to justify his stance towards caged egg production. He states “…the best way to protect public health would be for the government to enact legislation to ban battery hen farming…” while being fully aware of the fact that nothing conclusive has been found at the egg farm however contaminated product has been found in the food service establishment itself. Dr Obendorf himself acknowledges that “…irrespective of the principle egg-production system operating at an identified farm, it is imperative that the sanitation and hygiene practices, the poultry husbandry, health and welfare and the property biosecurity are all reviewed.”

Despite the fact that the DPIW and the Department of Health have acknowledged “…the operation appears to be as good as or better than other egg producing operations…”, and that during inspections by authorities, no contamination or bacteria has been found, nor did they find any cracked or unclean eggs being supplied.

The Greens continue to affirm the adverse effects that poor welfare has on egg production however this is not relevant to these circumstances, as the birds’ health conditions were not a concern during this incident.

Managing Director of the Australia Egg Corporation, James Kellaway, said “if the Greens are genuinely interested in the health and safety of Tasmanians, I would strongly encourage them to join the egg industry, regulators and the Restaurant and Catering Association in its call for improved food safety standards within the food services sector, including greater training, accreditation and auditing.” Dr Obendorf himself acknowledges in his conclusion that “…foods prepared in restaurants and catering settings caused most of the outbreaks and the most common agent isolated was Salmonella typhimurium.”

The egg farm in question has been under intense scrutiny in recent times, and has worked very hard to reduce the likelihood of generating a food borne safety risk, and to increase the level of welfare that is available to the birds. Additionally, all eggs from this farm are now subject to thorough egg washing, crack testing and a sorting process that is conducted by a third party.

Whilst all efforts to formulate a safe and effective production process for the consumer are in place, hazards from the food service sector are not in the control of the farmer. Even though raw egg product is not a commonly used ingredient for most consumers, it must be handled and stored appropriately to avoid bacterial contamination and protect public safety.

Until the contaminating pathway has been established, we remain unsure as to how the Salmonella contamination occurred throughout the supply chain.

Australian Egg Corporations’ (AECL) priority remains the safety and wellbeing of the consumers as well as the hens within the egg industry. AECL maintain that the public can continue to have confidence that eggs they are eating are safe and uncontaminated and that the stringent regulations are being enforced.

Mr Kellaway asserts that “…with all egg farmers subject to audits, inspections and licensing requirements, at this point it would seem prudent that the food service sector should also be accountable to Government to ensure that they adhere to at least the regulatory benchmarks for food safety like those enforced on egg farmers.”

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.
- Find out more information on Salmonellosis by clicking here.
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