Friday, February 15, 2008

Tasmanian Tummy - An Update

A few days ago, I posted about a Salmonella outbreak in the Australian state of Tasmania. The outbreak, which had claimed at least 75 victims as of February 9th, was linked to sauces made from raw eggs and served in at least one restaurant and at a funeral home.

Now, a local Tasmanian newspaper is reporting that the outbreak has been traced to a single egg supplier, Pitt's Poultry. According to the news article, this is not the first time that Pitt's has been the source of a Salmonella outbreak. Three other outbreaks were traced to this supplier between 2005 and 2007.

The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water expressed puzzlement at the continuing problems at Pitt's, especially since this supplier has improved its operations since the last spate of outbreaks and now uses industry "best practices".

In response to this latest outbreak, the Tasmanian Department of Health has tightened its regulations for businesses that use raw eggs. The DoH is now requiring such businesses to register with their local council, improve their documentation, and follow specific guidelines for handling and storing eggs.

The Tasmanian authorities have not, to my knowledge, revealed the specific serotype of Salmonella that is responsible for this latest outbreak. Nor have they indicated whether all of the outbreaks traced to Pitt's have been caused by the same strain of Salmonella. It will be interesting to see how this investigation continues to unfold.

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