New Zealand Food Safety has placed precautionary movement controls on a North Island egg producer after environmental testing indicated Salmonella Enteritidis on the farm.
NZ Food Safety has been tracing and testing poultry operations after Salmonella Enteritidis was found at an Auckland hatchery that supplies chicks to other operators, earlier this year.
Symptoms of Salmonella include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. It can be serious for people with reduced immunity, frail elderly, children under 2 years, and pregnant women.
Paul Dansted, NZ Food Safety director of food regulation, no eggs had tested positive to date. However, some eggs could contain Salmonella Enteritidis so it is important to provide advice for consumers.
“No product is leaving the farm at present while we carry out more investigations,” said Dansted.
“It’s important to note the positive results are not from eggs, but from samples from within the farm. While the risk is low, we are taking these precautionary actions are we are not yet in a position to assure consumers that Salmonella Enteritidis is not in some eggs.”
Some actions consumers can take to protect against Salmonella include:
- Keep eggs in the fridge after purchase
- Cook eggs thoroughly
- Wash your hands after handling eggs
- Consume eggs within the recommended date on the carton
- Don’t serve raw eggs to children under 2 years, pregnant women, the frail or elderly, and people with low or compromised immune systems.
- Keep surfaces and kitchen utensils clean and dry before and after handling eggs
- Use clean eggs free from dirt, faecal matter and cracks.
Last month, NZ Food Safety restricted two farms from sending out eggs after tests found Salmonella on their properties.
“We have been conducting tests with the poultry industry and action will be taken where necessary to identify and manage any suspect flocks.”
NZ Food safety is working closely with the Ministry of Health, which has been monitoring Salmonella Enteritidis cases in humans.
“To date, while there is no proven association between human illness and poultry meat and eggs, we continue to investigate.”
Dr Dansted assured that NZ Food Safety will continue to work with the poultry industry to assist in managing the risk of Salmonella Enteritidis in commercial flocks and reducing the risk to consumers.
“Many countries have Salmonella Enteritidis in poultry flocks and manage the risk with on-farm prevention measures. By taking this pre-emptive action with the farm and informing people to handle and prepare food safely at home, we reduce the risk.”
Salmonellosis, the illness caused by Salmonella Enteritidis bacteria, can spread in a variety of ways outside of food, including contact with infected animals, material, or surfaces, and between persons.
If you have health concerns after consuming eggs or chicken, seek medical advice from your doctor or Healthline.