Be aware of Salmonella risk in warmer weather

WITH the warmer weather, NSW Health and the NSW Food Authority are urging people to be aware of Salmonella poisoning and take care when preparing and storing food.

Salmonellosis notifications have started to increase as a result of warmer temperatures, with 112 notifications in NSW in the week up to December 20.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director, Communicable Diseases Branch, NSW Health, said products containing undercooked eggs are the most common source of outbreaks of salmonellosis in NSW.

"Salmonellosis can be quite severe," Dr Sheppeard said.

"The symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

"Symptoms usually start about six to 72 hours after eating the contaminated food and typically last for four to seven days, but can continue for much longer.

"It is important that people do not prepare food for others while they are unwell and, as a precaution, for 48 hours after symptoms have passed.

"Occasionally, hospitalisation is required for management of dehydration, particularly in young babies, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems."

NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said to avoid Salmonella poisoning, the same advice applies to both consumers and food retailers when preparing dressings, mayonnaises, desserts and sauces.

"It is far safer and preferable to use alternatives such as commercially produced products instead of handmade mayonnaise and sauces, or to use commercially pasteurised eggs in lieu of raw eggs in ready-to-eat products such as desserts and drinks," Dr Szabo said.

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

"Retailers should also remember that food laws in NSW prohibit the sale of eggs with dirty or cracked shells because this increases the risk of contamination and food-borne illness, and should reject any eggs that are not intact."

Salmonellosis is a form of gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella bacteria, which are commonly found in animals.

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