Raw eggs are risky, but where are pasteurized eggs available in Australia: Criminal trial over Copa Brazilian restaurant Salmonella outbreak begins, 162 sickened at May 2013 brunch

In May, 2013, at least 162 people who went out for a Mother’s Day meal at the Copa Brazilian in Canberra, Australia, were sickened with Salmonella.

raw.eggs_The Copa was eventually closed and sold in 2014.

But the court case is just beginning.

Alexandra Back of the Canberra Times reports that court was told the outbreak had the quickest incubation period one expert had ever seen, a court has heard.

And the speed at which the Copa Brazilian’s customers got sick could be because of the amount of bacteria ingested, the expert said.

In May 2013, within a week of opening, the 161 customers were served a potato salad with a raw egg aioli in a $45 all-you-can eat deal.

An ACT Health investigation traced the raw eggs to a Victorian supplier, while the Dickson restaurant eventually closed in 2014.

Copa’s owners, Zeffirelli Pizza Restaurant Pty Ltd, still faced criminal charges over selling unsafe food. They have pleaded not guilty.

Their defence was that they believed the food was safe to eat.

Defence lawyer Tim Sharman told the court the owners held a positive and reasonable belief the eggs were safe. He said the eggs came from a primary industry and chain of suppliers that was regulated, and the owner’s were entitled to rely on that regulation.

He said the possibility of a “bad egg” was beyond the owners’ control.

The court heard evidence how a crack in the shell invisible to the eye would allow salmonella to develop inside, but not be seen or smelled.

Further, at the time, the ACT had no guidelines or rules governing how to handle raw egg products, unlike other jurisdictions, Mr Sharman said.

The court was told staff were “disturbed” to hear of the outbreak.

But this was a business, and food poisoning was a risk restaurateurs should be aware of, prosecutor Michael Reardon told the court.

And there was a safer alternative in pasteurised egg products, he said, giving the owners ability to control for the risk of salmonella.

Cameron Moffat, an epidemiologist who at the time was with the ACT Health Service, said the use of products such as raw egg mayonnaise in restaurants was “in vogue”, and causing some problems, Mr Moffatt told the court.

Radomir Krsteski, manager of the microbiology unit at ACT Health, also gave evidence at the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday.

raw.egg_.mayo_.may_.13He said pasteurisation – a process of heating the egg products – was the safest way to ensure an egg would be free of salmonella.

He also explained how a “bad egg” with a hairline crack and kept in conditions favourable to the bacteria, could become contaminated with salmonella without someone’s knowledge.

Maybe there’ some Salmonella-night-vision goggles I don’t know about. But do restaurant owners really want to make people sick, and do they really want to lose their business?

When we go out to eat, which is increasingly rare, I always ask, does your chef use raw eggs in the aioli or mayo or something else that is not cooked?

In Australia the answer is usually a convincing yes.

I try not to be an ass about these things, but what I do say is, look at all the raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia and then say something like, we’re fans of your food, that’s why we come here. Do you really want to lose this business you worked so hard for because of a dip?

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-2-15.xlsx

Beware raw egg dishes: 160 sickened, Salmonella trial delayed in Canberra

A criminal trial over Canberra’s largest salmonella outbreak has been delayed until next year.

mayonnaise.raw.eggThe owners of the former Copa Brazilian restaurant had been scheduled to go before the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday over the incident that left about 160 people with food poisoning in May 2013.

Under ACT food safety law, those who either knowingly or negligently sell unsafe food can face criminal prosecution.

The criminal case follows civil lawsuits against the restaurant, with an estimated $1 million, including costs, paid out to those struck down by salmonella.

An ACT Health investigation found a supplier in Victoria to be responsible for the bad eggs that had been used by the Dickson restaurant to make raw egg mayonnaise.

The mayonnaise was then served to diners in a potato salad.

Many patrons of the then newly-opened all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue were struck down with salmonella poisoning, and the Canberra Hospital’s emergency department reportedly had one of its busiest days on record.

In the aftermath, the restaurant issued an apology to those affected and removed all products containing raw egg from its menu to ensure the poisoning was not repeated.

It closed voluntarily, before reopening under the close watch of ACT Health authorities.

But the restaurant eventually closed its doors and left Dickson in June last year.

Egg denial? 140 sick from Salmonella at Mother’s Day brunch in Canberra; scrutiny for egg supplier

A Victorian egg supplier is, according to The Age, under investigation and one person has ongoing health issues following Canberra’s largest salmonella outbreak, which has left health professionals ”struck by the severity” of the symptoms and high infection rate.

The outbreak, which affected 140 people and hospitalized 15 in mid-May, was traced back to raw egg mayonnaise served at the Copa Brazilian restaurant in raw.egg.mayoDickson. But ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly confirmed on Wednesday that the focus had turned to an egg producer in Victoria who supplied eggs to the Copa.

”We have actually sourced the eggs back to a supplier in Victoria, and our colleagues in Victoria have commenced an investigation of that particular place,” Dr Kelly said.

He also said so far results were pointing towards typhimurium phage type 170 as the specific bacterium, and clinicians at the territory’s hospitals had told ACT Health they’d never seen an outbreak with such strong symptoms.

”We were really struck by the severity of the symptoms and also the high attack rate – almost everyone that ate there got sick,” Dr Kelly said.

”Really, it was just the raw eggs. I really wish people would just stop using them.”

Dr Kelly said of 10 food poisoning outbreaks last year, half were salmonella-related, and four of those were traced back to raw egg products. He would like to see a national approach to combating the issue. ”At the moment there’s no law against using raw eggs. There is a law under the Food Act in the ACT and in other jurisdictions about … supplying unhealthy food to people. That is salmonella.eggsa breach of the law. I would argue that supplying food that has salmonella in it is pretty unhealthy,” he said.

Why any restaurant would serve raw egg mayo and incur the risk is beyond comprehension.

But, this is Australia, and Australia has an egg problem; or an egg denial problem.

A table of raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia.

Food safety apology II: Copa sorry for Salmonella outbreak

The restaurant behind Canberra’s largest salmonella outbreak has made a public apology to affected diners.

The Copa Brazilian Churrasco restaurant in Dickson released the statement on Thursday morning, after 140 people fell ill and 15 were admitted to raw.egg_.mayo_-300x203hospital after eating bad mayonnaise nearly two weeks ago.

“It is with sincere compassion and genuine sorrow that we apologize to all the people and their families affected by the recent tragic sequence of events,” the statement said.

“We have removed all products containing raw eggs from our menu to ensure an outbreak of this kind is never repeated at The Copa.”

The release said the restaurant management had been unable to make an official statement earlier due to the ongoing investigation, but decided to make an apology now given the release date was unknown.

It’s never wrong to say sorry, especially when it was clear that 140 barfing people had one thing in common: they ate at the Copa.

To now remove all raw-egg based dishes is nice, but too little too late. Any restaurant that willingly ignores risks associated with its food gets little sympathy. There have been plenty of raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia — so many that we have our own table — including Canberra in 2011.

A table of raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia.

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