Blame consumers Australian egg edition: SA Health advises don’t wash eggs as Salmonella cases soar

Australia still has an egg problem.

Rocky.raw.EggsAnd the best South Australia Health can come up with is, don’t wash your dirty eggs. as Salmonella hits a five-year high and is on track to double the number of cases recorded in 2010.

The natural inclination to wash the dirt off may actually be pushing harmful bacteria through the porous shell, creating a food poisoning trap.

Health authorities say it is difficult to pinpoint a single cause for the spike in Salmonella but have issued a public safety alert urging care when preparing, cooking and storing food.

As of October 24 there had been 1056 confirmed cases for the year, compared to 668 for all of 2010.

Last year a total of 1210 cases were recorded but there had been 215 fewer cases at this time of the year.

SA Health Director of Public Health Services Dr Kevin Buckett said “food myths” could cause people to fall sick.

“For whole cuts of meat, bacteria may be present on the outer surfaces and that is why you need to sear the outside of the meat but can still eat it rare.

(Unless it’s needle tenderized).

“However, for whole animals such as spit roast chicken, lamb or pork, it is important to cook the meat all the way through and to make sure the juices run clear before serving.”

Dr Buckett said mincemeat should be thoroughly cooked until all pink colouring has gone and that chicken also must be cooked all the way through.

Dr. Buckett is perpetuating some myths. Color is a lousy indicatior, and considering his six-figure salary and the flunkies that write such palp, it’s just embarrassing.

“Always make raw egg dishes fresh on the day, keep foods refrigerated until you are ready to eat them and do not leave food with raw egg out of the fridge for any longer than two hours.”

SA Health will stage a display at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on Thursday and Friday as part of Food Safety Week.

Taxpayers dollars at work: promoting scientifically invalid information, whle back-slapping that hey, we have a display.

No hospital should be serving a raw-egg based dish to any patients.

Just don’t eat raw eggs.

Rocky was an OK movie of an underdog, but he could barely put a sentence together.

Raw eggs? There’s a safer alternative. Cook ‘em, or use pasteurized eggs.

Penn and Teller, come and do a raw egg bit like you did on vaccines (NSFV).

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at


It’s not home-made that’s the risk: Mayo on food poisoning risk list

This isn’t news: Home-made mayonnaise and aioli might taste better (no, they don’t) but experts are urging cooks to take extra care with raw egg dishes to avoid food poisoning.

raw.eggsAnd many Australians are unaware that cooked rice and alfalfa sprouts, usually eaten raw, also can be a poisoning risk.

A national survey, conducted before the start of Australian Food Safety Week on Sunday, found some people couldn’t correctly identify foods often linked to food poisoning outbreaks when not handled or cooked correctly

They include chicken, minced meat and seafood, says Food Safety Information Council chair Rachelle Williams.

The increase in salmonella outbreaks in recent years is linked to raw or minimally cooked egg dishes such as hand made aioli and mayonnaise.

If the risk of Salmonella in an egg in 1-in-20,000, what does that risk become when 100 eggs are pooled together to make mayo or aoili? 1-in-200.

Any restaurant should use pasteurized eggs.

This is news: Today, in 1971, the first record I ever bought was released: Led Zepplin IV. I remember arriving at my grandparents’ house in Cookstown, Ontario (that’s in Canada) and putting it on. They said it was a terrible noise. I loved it.

OMG: safe food Queensland says raw eggs risky (sorta)

The Melbourne Cup horse race starts in a couple of hours and the twitter-comms types at safe food Queensland have said something, in writing, I’ve never seen before:

omg“Avoid eating raw foods such as salad dressings and sauces made with raw eggs e.g. mayonnaise, hollandaise and aioli or uncooked foods containing raw eggs e.g. cookie dough, mousse, cheesecake, tiramisu.

“Check to see if sauces or salad dressings are pasteurized.”

About time.

The safe food advisory also contains poor attempts at humor such as, “It’s the race that stops a nation so don’t let food poisoning have you galloping!”


Almost 300 sickened: Brisbane Convention Centre food poisoning caused by Salmonella on stick blender

Tomorrow is Melbourne Cup day, the (horse) race that stops a nation.

melbourne.cup.hatsIt’s like the Kentucky Derby but nation-wide, and the hats are more outrageous.

The news has focused on fashion tips for Derby Day, but they should instead focus on tips for not barfing from raw egg-based dishes.

Two years ago on Melbourne Cup day, at least 220 people were felled by Salmonella and one was killed at Melbourne Cup functions in Brisbane, all linked to raw egg based dishes served by Piccalilli Catering.

In July 2015, at least 90 people were stricken with Salmonella after a fancy tea at the Langham Hotel in Melbourne. Australian health types confirmed it was Salmonella in raw-egg mayonnaise that was included in chicken sandwiches that were served at the $79 tea.

Fancy food ain’t safe food.

In Jan. 2015, at least 130 diners were stricken with Salmonella after being served ice cream containing raw eggs at Brisbane’s Chin Chin Chinese Restaurant. Dozens were hospitalized. Follow-up? Nothing

In May 2013, 160 diners at the Copa Brazilian restaurant in Canberra were struck down with Salmonella – it was the raw egg mayo that was then used in potato salad.

And so it goes.

The carnage continues from raw eggs in Australia (a table of known Australian-based is available at

There are a few plausible explanations for the uniquely high number of Salmonella outbreaks related to raw egg dishes in Australia. is a particular form of food snobbery that disses the use of pasteurized eggs in the food pornography biz, even though you could lose your restaurant and life savings to one dish. On those few occasions I go out to eat, I ask the server if the mayo or aioli is made with raw eggs. They always come back and insist, of course it is made with raw eggs, the chef wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wrong answer.

In March, 2015, 250 teachers were stricken with Salmonella at a Brisbane conference, and an additional 20 people were sickened on the Gold Coast from the same egg supplier.

Some answers are now available, but only through access to information requests.

The Courier Mail reports this morning that a kitchen stick blender contaminated with Salmonella was the source of a mass food poisoning outbreak in Brisbane early this year.

About 250 people, mostly state school principals, fell ill and 24 people were admitted to hospital after eating at an education conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in February.

Documents obtained by The Courier-Mail show that investigators examining the outbreak found bacteria on several kitchen utensils, with that bacteria “incubated’’ during the cooking process.

Test results from the investigation showed the people who fell ill were sick with the same strain of salmonella found on a kitchen stick blender “which demonstrates the source of the outbreak.”

Not quite. Salmonella has to get on the stick, whether it was introduced by humans or raw eggs or something else.

The documents rule out the possibility the outbreak was caused by eggs being contaminated before they arrived at the convention centre.


“(Redacted) suggested that if the eggs were contaminated when they arrived, that this was the cause, however I advised … that poor cleaning and sanitising of the stick blender was the ultimate cause,’’ the documents say.

“(Redacted) questioned why the Sal. was not killed during the cooking process of the bread butter pudding. I advised that the QH microbiologist suggest that 140deg was not hot enough to kill Sal, but rather it was an incubation temp.’’

Brisbane City Council is now considering prosecuting the operators, with a decision due by the end of this year.

egg.dirty.feb.12Documents show the centre lost their five-star food safety rating from the council in the wake of the test results and they are yet to regain it.

A food safety audit found a “breakdown in cleaning and sanitising processes as indicated by the following positive swabs from 17/03/15”, with poor hand washing the reason for E. coli being found.

They found Salmonella on a larger robotic mixer and B. cereus on a smaller mixer, pastry brush and a whisk.

Convention centre general manager Robert O’Keeffe said the incident was the first of its type in the centre’s 20-year history.

That’s nice.

“Since the reported cases of illness, we have undertaken independent food safety audits, continued our testing processes for the sourcing, processing and delivery of safe food to our guests,” he said.

“All of our cooking practices and processes are monitored and recorded on our 24-hour computerised food safety monitoring system.”

He said the blender at the centre of the controversy had been removed and whole eggs taken off the menu.

“This means no eggshells, which potentially carry pathogens, will ever come into BCEC’s kitchens,” he said.

He said during the salmonella outbreak the eggs were not being sourced from their regular supplier.

I want pasteurized eggs used in mayo and aoili because this isn’t CSI and those UV goggles won’t tell a chef which egg has Salmonella.

In addition to popular culture, the chefs are merely responding to government advice.

Victoria Department of Health spokesman Bram Alexander said the Latham outbreak was a warning to cooks about the dangers of using raw eggs: “You have to store them properly, you have to handle them properly, prepare them properly, and don’t used cracked eggs.”

What the health spokesthingy wouldn’t say is: don’t serve dishes that contain raw eggs.

They say that in Canada and the U.S., but somehow, Australian regulators won’t directly say, don’t serve raw-egg containing dishes.

And that allows people like the Langham’s Melbourne managing director, Ben Sington, to say with a straight face, “we can confirm that all our eggs are sourced from a reputable and certified supplier and stored in accordance with food safety guidelines.”

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at

Australia still has an egg problem: Salmonella outbreak at Brisbane’s South Bank Surf Club investigated

Once again, Australian diners are barfing because chefs think they know better about Salmonella in eggs.

garlic_aioliThe South Bank Surf Club in Brisbane was inspected after complaints from diners who had confirmed cases of food poisoning.

Restaurant management told The Courier-Mail that Queensland Health and Brisbane City Council had contacted the business after several sick people came forward.

The manager said the cause had been identified as “a bad batch of eggs’’ provided by a supplier. They said the eggs had been used in sauces served with seafood platters.

“We’ve been caught out, unfortunately. Our customers’ wellbeing is our priority and anyone with concerns can get in touch with us,” they said. “To rectify the problem, we are not making sauces in-house.’’

This is something I wrote for the local paper a few months ago.

In 2013, at least 50 people, mainly children, were sickened with E. coli O157 at the Ekka. Scientific or public follow-up? Nothing.

Queensland Health has been warned repeatedly about Q-fever outbreaks at the Ekka related to the birthing of goats. Follow-up? Nothing.

In 2013, at least 130 people, including 55 nursing home patients were stricken by Norovirus in Ipswich and on the Sunshine Coast. Follow-up? Nothing.

In Nov. 2013, at least 220 people were felled by Salmonella and one was killed at Melbourne Cup functions, all linked to raw egg based dishes served by Piccalilli Catering. Follow-up? Nothing. (I even wrote to then health minister Lawrence Springborg; no response, guess he was busy with parliament).

In Jan. 2015, at least 130 diners were stricken with Salmonella after dining at Brisbane’s Chin Chin Chinese Restaurant. Dozens were hospitalized. Follow-up? Nothing.

In March, 2015, 250 teachers were stricken with Salmonella at a conference, and an additional 20 people were sickened on the Gold Coast from the same egg supplier. Follow-up? Nothing.

As a food safety professor in Canada and the U.S. who relocated to Brisbane four years ago to support my French professor wife, I look at these outbreaks and wonder: what does Queensland Health do? What does Safefood Queensland do?

I believe in science, however fallible it may be, and my church is the (ice) hockey arena.

I also believe in public disclosure, especially because these investigators are working on the Queensland tax dollar. These are hopelessly ineffective agencies — and I’ve seen a lot of agencies —  but these are the worst, especially in terms of public disclosure.

Surf Club GangNot the people, but the structure and confines in which they work for a pay cheque.

Now we’re told that hundreds of Brisbane restaurants, cafes, bakeries and caterers are operating below legal safety standards.

Brisbane City Council says it is waging war on shoddy operators in light of a massive jump in food poisoning outbreaks.

That’s a war of attrition.

Instead, Brisbane, and Queensland, could make a few simple changes to hold the purveyors of food accountable.

Mandate training.

Make restaurant inspection disclosure mandatory instead of the current voluntary.

And create a culture that values microbiologically safe food (the kind that doesn’t make you barf).

I was coaching an (ice) hockey game at the Gold Coast on the weekend, and the restaurant we went to afterwards was advertising a petting zoo – at the restaurant.

This is a microbiologically horrible idea.

Same with the petting zoos at kids’ schools and in malls, like the one in Fairfield.

Queensland is on track to suffer its worst year on record for salmonellosis, which has infected more than 2,500 people – mostly in the southeast – since the start of the year.

The state is also recording spikes in other gastrointestinal illness cases such as Campylobacter (1,993), cryptosporidiosis (604) and yersiniosis (180).

Data from the council’s Eat Safe star-rating system, shows almost 10 per cent of Brisbane’s 6000-plus food operators were operating below legal safety standards.

Queensland taxpayers deserve answers to some basic questions about all of the aforementioned outbreaks:

  • How did the outbreak happen;
  • was this commodity sourced from a food safety accredited supplier;
  • did handling by the caterer contribute to this outbreak;
  • what is Queensland Health’s policy on use of raw eggs in dishes to be consumed raw;
  • is this policy enforced;
  • is the investigation closed and if so, why and when was it closed;
  • will an outbreak investigation report be created and publicized;
  • why was the previous update erased from the Department’s website and on whose authority; and,
  • what is Queensland Health’s policy on providing information to the public.

This isn’t CSI, with its groovy UV lights that make great television but lousy science.

This also isn’t rocket surgery: publicly release all surveillance data on raw eggs in Queensland (or Australia), publicly release the menu items at the Queensland Convention Center and the Grocer and Grind on the Gold Coast where two of their own chefs got sick, and tell chefs to stop using raw eggs in dishes they have to so expertly craft from scratch like aioli or mayonnaise.

This is nothing new and we have been documenting the problem for years because it is a global food safety embarrassment. The solutions are there. It’s time for leadership.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: Egg factory owner in Germany arrested over man’s death from Salmonella

A poultry farmer whose contaminated eggs caused a Salmonella outbreak at a Birmingham, UK hospital has been arrested over the death of a man in Austria.

salm.eanygg.germFive patients died at Heartlands Hospital in Bordesley Green and the bacteria was traced back to eggs from factory Bayern Ei in Bavaria, Germany.

The same source of Salmonella is blamed for the death of a 75-year-old man.

Factory owner Stefan Pohlman is in custody accused of grievous bodily harm causing death, said a German lawyer.

The salmonella outbreak at Heartlands Hospital between 25 May and 18 June 2014, saw 32 staff and patients infected.

A report found it directly caused the death of one patient.

It played a part in other deaths because inadequately equipped wards, unmonitored food preparation and poor cleaning helped it spread, the report stated.

$250K fine in Australia for fake ‘free range’ eggs

In addition to changing Prime Ministers every 12 months (bye-bye Tony dumb-dumb) it’s almost impossible to buy cage eggs, at least without enduring the stigmatizing stares of other shoppers.

darling.down.eggsBut are consumers getting what’s advertised?

Darling Downs Fresh Eggs must pay a $250,000 fine after the Federal Court ruled it had purposely mis-labelled its eggs as free range, in a case brought by the competition watchdog.

The court found that RL Adams Pty, the company behind the egg producer, engaged in misleading conduct and made misleading representations to consumers in labelling and promoting its eggs as `free range’ from December 2013 to October 2014.

The company admitted, in the course of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigation, that it had kept its hens confined to barns at all times, and kept doors shut so the chickens never had access to an outdoor range.

“It’s clearly misleading to claim your eggs are free range when the hens that laid the eggs didn’t roam freely outdoors,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

“People are willing to pay a premium for free range eggs which they believe meet ethical or welfare standards. Businesses should not be benefiting financially from misleading claims about farming practices,” he said.

The severity of the penalty was mitigated in part by Rl Adams’ co-operation with the ACCC investigation, said the court.

Egg moguls belong behind bars

The Des Moines Register writes in this editorial that four months ago, Iowa egg producers Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter, were each sentenced to 90 days in prison for their role in the nation’s largest egg-related Salmonella outbreak.

decosterNow, however, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers and other major business organizations are fighting to keep the DeCosters out of prison.

They’ve filed briefs with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, siding with the DeCosters in arguing that while fines and probation are acceptable in such cases, it’s unconstitutional to put corporate executives behind bars for the criminal actions of their underlings.

It’s an interesting case with major legal and ethical implications. After all, mere fines aren’t much of a deterrent to executives who collect multi-million-dollar salaries. But a 90-day stint in prison, as the DeCosters themselves argue in their court filings, carries with it the “personal loss and stigma” associated with becoming a convict.

In this case, a prison sentence certainly seems warranted. The Quality Egg salmonella outbreak of 2010 sickened at least 56,000 people (about 1,800 confirmed) and triggered a record-setting recall of more than half a billion eggs.

salmonella.eggsAs to whether the DeCosters themselves were to blame for the outbreak, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett found the two men had created a “culture of rampant safety violations” and a “work environment where employees not only felt comfortable disregarding regulations and bribing USDA officials, but may have even felt pressure to do so.”

The editorial conclueds that tens of thousands of people were sickened as a direct result of the manner in which the DeCosters managed — or, rather, mismanaged — Quality Egg and its employees. For that, the DeCosters should be held accountable. A prison sentence is entirely appropriate.

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.

He’s baaaaack: DeCoster to buy Maine egg producer

A farm executive who pleaded the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in front of a congressional committee investigating an Iowa salmonella outbreak is the same person who signed a new lease on Maine’s largest egg farm last month.

decosterThe Maine Department of Environmental Protection is considering a request by a Land O’Lakes subsidiary to transfer active permits to Hillandale Farms, which was involved with Jack DeCoster (right, pretty much as shown) in the Iowa salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,900 people in 2010, the Sun Journal reported.

Hillendale, an egg producer headquartered in Pennsylvania, signed a lease to operate the farms on July 8. But the properties continue to be owned by DeCoster’s corporate entities, the newspaper said.

A University of Maine veterinarian who sits on a salmonella risk reduction team for the state says Moark, a subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, had been “terrific” to work with. She hopes for the same with Hillandale.

“We are vitally interested in the health of Maine people (and) we want our state to have a poultry industry as well,” said Anne Lichtenwalner, director of UMaine’s Animal Health Lab. “We want transparency and we want collaboration, and I think that they are walking into a positive situation. One hopes that they embrace that.”

Moark signed its lease over to Hillandale Farms Conn LLC on July 8. That agreement was signed by Hillandale President Orland Bethel, who in 2010 pleaded the Fifth in front of the Congressional Energy and Commerce Committee when he and DeCoster were asked to testify about the salmonella outbreak.

DeCoster’s company managed Hillandale’s Alden, Iowa, farm.