Food safety warning on raw eggs

Date: Monday, 03 March 2014

People need to be aware of the increased risk of eating foods containing raw or under-cooked eggs, the Chief Health Officer, Dr Rosemary Lester said today.

Clusters of gastroenteritis due to salmonella at two restaurants have been linked to raw-egg foods made from eggs from a western Victorian supplier, Dr Lester said.

The Department of Environment & Primary Industries has restricted the sale of eggs from Green Eggs farm until additional cleaning and hygiene measures are in place to improve food safety.

The company supplies a range of restaurants, cafes and other eateries, farmers’ markets and a number of supermarkets across the State.

They include the Bottle of Milk restaurant in Torquay, where 220 people ate before coming down with gastroenteritis in February.

“Food and drinks containing raw and undercooked eggs, including mayonnaise, aioli, eggnog and tiramisu have been associated in the past with salmonella outbreaks in Victoria,” Dr Lester said.

“These foods can be a risk, especially for the elderly and people with lowered immunity, children and pregnant women.”

Thoroughly cooking eggs renders them safe from contaminants such as salmonella.

“Green Eggs are marketed in distinctive packaging, and people who have bought the product from their supermarket in recent weeks and still have eggs in their fridge should only use them for cooked dishes and foods,” Dr Lester said.

“Restaurants wishing to prepare raw egg dishes or dressings should source those eggs from another source until such time as we are satisfied that the changes at the farm have been successfully implemented.”

Dr Lester recommended that people cook eggs until they are hot all the way through, which kills any bacteria that may be present and ensures they are safe to eat.

“As a general food safety measure, people should check eggs are clean and have no visible cracks before they buy them,” she said.

“You should refrigerate your eggs at home, preferably in the original carton so you know the best-before date. If you find a dirty or cracked egg, throw it out. Washing eggs at home is not recommended as it makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate the shell.”

People who have questions or are concerned about their health can call the Department of Health Food Safety hotline on 1300 364 352.

Video transcript - Dr Rosemary Lester Food safety warning on raw eggs

Dr Rosemary Lester
3 March 2014

Today, we’ve linked salmonella to two restaurants using raw egg foods supplied by a particular Western Victorian supplier and that’s the Green Eggs Free Range farm at Great Western. So, one of those restaurants was the Bottle of Milk Restaurant in Torquay, where you’re aware that more than 200 people contracted salmonella gastroenteritis after eating at the restaurant.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries has placed restrictions on the Green Eggs farm and this restricts the sale of eggs until a range of handling, cleaning and hygiene matters are improved. Green Eggs are marketed in distinctive packaging. So, I have an example there and they supply a range of restaurants, cafés, farmers markets and a number of supermarkets.


So, we’re advising that restaurants who prepare raw egg dishes or dressings should source their eggs elsewhere until we’re satisfied that the changes implemented on the farm have been successful. People who’ve bought the product from a supermarket in recent weeks, and still have these eggs at home, they should use them only for cooked dishes and foods. So, cooking the eggs renders them safe from salmonella.
Foods and drinks containing raw and undercooked eggs – these included mayonnaise, aioli, egg nog and tiramisu have been associated, in the past, with salmonella outbreaks. These foods can be a risk, especially for the elderly, people with lowered immunity, children and pregnant women and we have issued that advise previously, both to restaurants and the general public. People should cook eggs until they are hot all the way through. This kills any bacteria which may be present and ensures that they’re safe and, of course, eggs are a very nutritious food and a very important part of a balanced diet.
As a general food safety measure, people should check their eggs are clean and have no visible cracks before they buy them. It’s good to refrigerate your eggs at home, preferably in their original carton so you know what their best before date is and, if you do find a dirty or cracked egg, throw it out and don’t wash your eggs at home. It makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate the shell.

Media inquiries

Graeme Walker
Department of Health Media Unit
Telephone: +61 3 9096 7296
Moblie: 0409 237 543
Email: graeme.walker@dhhs.vic.gov.au