New Zealand Food Safety has placed movement controls on a North Island egg producer as a precautionary measure after environmental testing indicated Salmonella Enteritidis on the farm.
New Zealand Food Safety has been carrying out tracing and testing of poultry operations after Salmonella Enteritidis was found at an Auckland hatchery that supplies chicks to other operators, earlier this year.
Symptoms of Salmonella illness include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. It can be serious in people with reduced immunity, frail elderly, children under 2 years, and pregnant women.
New Zealand Food Safety director of food regulation Dr Paul Dansted said to date no eggs had tested positive.
However, it was possible that some eggs could contain Salmonella Enteritidis so it was prudent to provide advice to consumers.
“No product is leaving the farm at present while we carry out more investigations.
“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 this precautionary action as we are not yet in a position to assure consumers that Salmonella Enteritidis is not in some eggs."
There are key actions consumers can take to protect against Salmonella Enteritidis.
• Keep eggs in the fridge after purchase.
• Cook eggs thoroughly - until the white is completely firm and the yolk begins to thicken.
• 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 of age, pregnant woman, the frail and 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 stopped 2 farms from sending eggs to sale after tests found Salmonella Enteritidis 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 said NZ Food Safety would continue to work with the poultry industry to assist it to manage the risk of Salmonella Enteritidis in commercial flocks and reduce 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.