When food poisoning strikes, we’re quick to point the finger at the suspicious chicken pad thai we had the night before. But more often than not, the culprit is actually a totally different ingredient: eggs.
“Eggs are a brilliant food but you can assume the shell is carrying salmonella,” Lydia Buchtmann, spokesperson for the Food Safety Information Council tells SMH.
“This can be a problem if the raw egg becomes contaminated with salmonella and then used in an uncooked dish like mayonnaise or even a lightly cooked dessert like a mousse – and not refrigerated carefully.”
In fact, of the 4.1 million food poisoning outbreaks reported in Australia each year, over a third are related to the consumption of raw or lightly cooked eggs.
The symptoms can range in severity and include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
“Salmonellosis can be quite severe and people sometimes have to be hospitalised to manage dehydration, particularly in young babies, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems,” explains Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases at NSW Health.
To minimise your risk of contracting salmonellosis, careful food prep and storage is key.
While cooking produce thoroughly should kill any bacteria, NSW Health advises not to leave food at room temperature for long periods of time and avoid placing it directly in the heat or sun.
“Refrigerated food should be kept at less than five degrees Celsius and hot foods should be kept above 60 degrees Celsius,” NSW Health adds.