The Centre has been working alongside MPI, ESR and Ministry of Health staff to investigate the presence of Salmonella Enteritidis at a North Island hatchery, which supplies a number of egg producers.  Dr Jo Kingsbury, ESR, and Centre Chief Scientist Nigel French have a deep knowledge of the egg and chicken meat production chain and controlling Salmonella, having worked closely for many years with the Poultry Industry Association of NZ (PIANZ) and the Egg Producers Federation of NZ.  For your information, here is the media release issued by MPI on 17 June. 

The bacteria were picked up during routine flock environmental testing at the hatchery.  It has not been found in any eggs to date but the strain identified in environmental testing has also been found in 98 humans since 2019 and there are seven additional linked human cases, with more cases under investigation.  Because we cannot absolutely rule out transmission to eggs, MPI has advised consumers to take these precautions against possible infection, which can be nasty for elderly people, pregnant women, small children, and those who are immune compromised.

  • Keep eggs in the fridge after purchase.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly - until the white is completely firm and the yolk begins to thicken.
  • Wash your hands after handling eggs.
  • Consume eggs within the recommended date on the carton.
  • Don’t serve raw eggs to children under 2 years of age, pregnant woman, the frail and elderly, and people with low or compromised immune systems. 
  • Keep surfaces and kitchen utensils clean and dry before and after handling eggs.
  • Use clean eggs free from dirt, faecal matter and cracks.

Professor French adds that, as an extra precaution, parents should not let children eat raw cake and biscuit mixtures containing eggs, and suggests that people consider the possible risk with making homemade mayonnaise and desserts that contain raw eggs, such as uncooked meringues or mousse.  

The incubation period in people is usually between 8 and 72 hours and the symptoms include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.

The New Zealand poultry industry has been free of this particular strain of Salmonella, and will make every endeavour to nip it in the bud.  The Centre will do all it can to help, and to support our industry members.  We’ll keep you posted.  

Director, Dr Catherine McLeod

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