Department of Health

Investigation into MCG gastro outbreak complete

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services has completed an investigation into an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness associated with an MCG function on Anzac Day.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said the investigation identified 37 patrons and one staff member who were unwell with a range of symptoms including acute gastroenteritis after attending the catered President's Lunch in the Olympic Room at the MCG on April 25.

"After three months of investigation, which included extensive testing of implicated foods and ingredients, there were no definitive results as to the specific cause of illness," Dr Sutton said.

"Based on all available evidence, illness was more likely to have been due to consumption of food rather than as a result of chemical or other environmental exposure.

"The evidence gathered during the investigation, however, revealed that the most likely source of illness was the relish which was served with the entrée of Rabbit, Chicken and Pork terrine."

As the onset of symptoms for some of the cases was rapid, several ill attendees were assessed by paramedics whilst still at the MCG. Seven of those were transported to hospital where they were further assessed and treated in the emergency department and then discharged home.

None of these cases were admitted to hospital and no clinical specimens were collected from these patients.

Environmental health officers from Melbourne City Council attended the venue on multiple occasions over the course of the investigation, to ensure that the premises had conducted a thorough clean-up, to gather information and collect food samples for testing.

These council officers worked in collaboration with officers from the Department to try to identify the cause of the outbreak.

Our investigations included testing of samples of terrine, and ingredients used to make the relish. Officers from the Department interviewed 109 guests and staff who attended or worked at the function.

Dr Sutton said while there was no definitive source identified for this outbreak, evidence gathered during these interviews revealed that the most likely source of illness was the relish.

"As this was an isolated incident and no issues were found with food processes, there is no ongoing risk to the public and no further action is required," Dr Sutton said.

"There are often many limitations in foodborne disease outbreak investigations, so it is not unusual for an investigation such as this to result in an inconclusive outcome."

Reviewed 13 August 2019


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