Watch out for Salmonella poisoning as temperatures rise

With sizzling temperatures soaring into the 40’s in NSW this week, NSW Health is warning people to be wary of Salmonella poisoning.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases NSW Health advises “Products containing undercooked eggs, and the spread of germs in the kitchen, are the most common source of salmonellosis outbreaks in NSW,”.

Salmonellosis is a type of gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella bacteria found in animals.

Careful preparation and storage of food is the best defence against salmonellosis, Dr Sheppeard said.   Food must be cooked thoroughly to kill Salmonella and food should not be left out in the heat. The longer food is left at room temperature the more the Salmonella bacteria will multiply. Refrigerated food should be kept at less than five degrees Celsius and hot foods should be kept above 60 degrees Celsius.

NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said to reduce the risk of Salmonella poisoning, consumers and food retailers can use commercially produced products instead of handmade mayonnaise and sauces when preparing food.

“It is also much safer to use commercially pasteurised eggs rather than raw eggs in ready-to-eat products such as desserts and dressings,” Dr Szabo said.

“Businesses in NSW must comply with strict requirements around the use of raw eggs in foods. Retailers should remember that food laws in NSW prohibit the sale of eggs with dirty or cracked shells, which increase the risk of contamination, and should reject any eggs that are not intact.

“While preparing and handling food, keep benches and utensils clean and dry and do not allow cross contamination of raw and cooked products.”

Salmonellosis symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms usually start around six to 72 hours after the contaminated food is eaten and usually last for four to seven days, but can continue for much longer.

“Most people recover from salmonellosis by resting and drinking fluids but antibiotics are required in complicated cases,” Dr Sheppeard said.

For further information, see the Salmonellosis fact sheet on the NSW Health website.


Cooling Potentially Hazardous Food

A common contributing factor to food poisoning in a food business is incorrect temperature zone. This is when food is held for too long at temperatures where harmful food poisoning bacteria can grow.

It is important that food businesses make sure cooked potentially hazardous food (PHF) has been cooled in accordance to Food Standards Code:

A food business must cool the food:
• within two hours – from 60°C
to 21°C, and
• within a further four hours –
from 21°C to 5°C.

Do you understand your responsibilities as a food business owner?  Don’t leave your customers and your business at risk!



Salmonella outbreak in Canberra closes two cafes

An outbreak of salmonella has forced two popular Canberra cafes to close their doors while they were investigated by health inspectors.

In a statement, HPS said health inspectors had uncovered problems “related with food handling processes and procedures” at both stores.

“The cafes will be closed until such time as the identified issues have been rectified,” the statement said.

The closure of the cafes for ‘serious food safety breaches’ and “risk to public health” is a scary reminder of the extreme importance of ensuring all food handlers are properly trained and aware of best safe food handling practises.
Click the link to read the articles about the closure of two cafes in Canberra.  If you haven’t updated your Food Safety Training don’t leave it too late!

Further cases of Listeria indentified

18 January 2013

An ongoing national investigation has linked a further seven cases of listeria to soft cheeses. There are now 18 cases of listeria infection nationally, and a link to batches of Jindi manufactured cheeses sold at delicatessens and supermarkets has been identified.

The Jindi Cheese company is now voluntarily recalling its cheeses from all batches it manufactured up until January 7.

listeria sample

listeria sample

Dr Lisa Szabo, Chief Scientist, NSW Food Authority, advised that affected Jindi cheeses should either be discarded or returned to the retailer for a refund. There are a number of brand names included in the recall. Consumers should check the list of products or call the Jindi helpline on 1800 680 175.

Professor Wayne Smith, Acting Director of Health Protection, NSW Health, advises that the recalled Jindi foods should not be consumed.

Eight cases of listeria have been identified in Victoria, six in NSW, two in Queensland and single cases in Tasmania and Western Australia. Two people – a Victorian man, 84, and a Tasmanian man, 44, have died of listeriainfection, and a NSW woman miscarried.

Professor Lynn Gilbert, Clinical Lead, Infection Prevention and Control, Western Sydney Local Health District, said that at risk groups should be aware that some foods are potentially harmful to them.

“Pregnant women, and the elderly, in particular need to aware of this recall. Sadly, a woman in NSW has miscarried after contracting listeria,” said Prof Gilbert.

Listeria is a bacteria that can affect a range of food products, particularly soft cheeses such as camembert and brie, despite strict hygiene and manufacturing controls,” Prof Gilbert said.

“The infection will cause minor or no symptoms in the vast majority of healthy people who may contract it, but is particularly dangerous for some vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and the elderly. Early symptoms of listeria include fever, headache, tiredness, aches and pains.

“It’s extremely important that at risk groups are aware of the dangers of associated with soft cheeses and what Jindi products have been recalled.”

For the full list of products please visit:

Information about listeria, and the type of foods at risk, can be found on the NSW Health website at:

Further information about what foods to avoid can be found at:

Food Safety and High-Risk Foods

There are a number of factors that contribute to food poisoning, including incorrect temperatures, cross
contamination and poor hygiene and when you add high-risk foods to the equation, you have all the
ingredients for a bacterial banquet.

So, what are the high-risk foods?

• Meat and poultry – Salmonella and E.Coli occur naturally in rawImage meat and poultry, so foods
such as this should always be cooked thoroughly to kill bacteria,

• Eggs and dairy – can contain bacteria such as Salmonella. Use only clean, unbroken eggs
and pasteurised milk products and always store dairy products at suitably cool temperatures.

• Seafood – because it is often eaten raw, extra care needs to be taken. Always keep seafood
chilled during transport and storage and eat within the prescribed time frame. Shellfish such
as oysters are particularly high-risk, because of their ability to absorb bacteria and toxins from
polluted water, so always buy your seafood from a reputable supplier.

• Stews and gravies – can be a breeding ground for bacteria such as Clostridium perfringens,
if allowed to sit at warm temperatures for too long. Ideally, they should be divided into smaller
batches to allow for faster cooling before refrigeration.
Cooked noodles, rice and pasta – bacterial spores found in dry rice can often survive boiling
water, so always eat cooked rice immediately or refrigerate. Bacillus cereus is the most
common form of bacteria associated with starchy foods such as rice, pasta and potatoes.

• Smallgoods such as ham and salami – can harbour bacteria such as Salmonella, E.Coli and
Campylobacter, so they must always be prepared and stored safely, particularly raw meats.

• Sandwiches, quiches and prepared salads – because these often contain high-risk
ingredients, they should also be treated with the same respect. Staphylococcus aureus is a
form of bacteria often associated with food poisoning from eating salads (particularly egg, tuna,
macaroni and potato salads).

Contaminated food can often look and smell quite normal, so extra care must be taken when dealing
with high-risk foods, particularly when preparing them for young children, pregnant women, the elderly
and people with chronic illnesses.

The risk of food becoming unsafe in your business will depend on the types of food you sell and how
you store, prepare and handle food. If dealing with high-risk foods, remember to always cook and store
them at the correct temperature and in the correct manner to prevent cross-contamination and always
observe sound hygiene practices in food preparation areas.

Restaurant cleaning cloths ‘pose health risk’

Restaurants and takeaways are using cleaning cloths contaminated with E coli, listeria and other potentially dangerous bacteria, a study by Health Protection Agency (HPA) has revealed

Cloths used to clean surfaces where food is prepared need to be changed regularly or thoroughly disinfected to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning,
Bacteria on uncleaned cloths can transfer to the hands of staff then on to work surfaces, equipment and utensils. 
Exposure to harmful bacteria can cause food poisoning … for some – particularly the very young, very old and pregnant women – it can have serious consequences. 
“The HPA plays an important role in monitoring the hygiene standards at commercial premises and these worrying findings should serve as a timely reminder to all caterers to ditch the dirty dishcloths and stick to disposable ones.”
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