New Zealand Food Safety has taken precautionary action following the detection of Salmonella Enteritidis at an Auckland poultry farm.
This is a timely reminder to take the usual precautions around food safety at home, said director of food regulation Paul Dansted.
"There has been an increase in human cases caused by the same strain of salmonella found in our investigation, which we are tracking alongside the Ministry of Health," said Dansted.
"The cause of the human cases is still being investigated. However, to reduce the possibility of getting ill through food, we'd like to remind people to follow the 3Cs of food safety at home.
"In other words, clean food preparation surfaces, cook raw chicken meat to an internal temperature of 75°C, and chill cooked chicken meat in the fridge.
"Symptoms of Salmonella illness include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. It can be serious in people with reduced immunity, older people, children, and pregnant women."
A New Zealand Food Safety audit and follow-up testing has found the bacterium at an Auckland supplier of hatching eggs and day-old chicks to industry.
"That facility has taken a number of steps to prevent further infection, including sanitising affected sheds, culling potentially affected chickens, and increased testing.
"These actions, as well as our tracing work, and wider industry testing, have prevented any contaminated eggs from reaching consumers.
"People's safety is our number one priority here. Our testing and tracing work over the past few months has been focussed on ensuring the risk remains low, and to assist industry to eradicate the bacterium from commercial chicken flocks."
Actions to date include:
- Tracing product from the facility to 64 farms, which have all been tested. Two of these farms tested positive and have been required to hold product before it goes to market. The farms must take a number of actions before being allowed to continue trading. Results from a further 2 facilities are due in the next few days, and the remaining 60 farms returned negative tests.
- Four facilities which earlier tested positive for the bacterium have already been sanitised and the affected flocks have been culled.
- Significantly increased industry testing for Salmonella, above and beyond normal requirements, across the supply chain.
"For context, the Salmonella Enteritidis bacterium is present in the poultry industries of many countries and is managed by a variety of regulatory controls. However, it does occasionally cause outbreaks of food poisoning, and can be serious.
"We continue to monitor the situation with the Ministry of Health and are working closely with the poultry sector to ensure any risk is identified and dealt with."
Salmonellosis can spread in a variety of ways outside of food, including contact with infected animals, material, or surfaces.
If you are worried about your health, contact your doctor for advice.