Eggs pulled from supermarket shelves after potential salmonella scare

Matt Bungard
Recall: A variety of egg cartons have been taken off supermarket shelves.
Recall: A variety of egg cartons have been taken off supermarket shelves. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

Eggs are being pulled off supermarket shelves across Australia and hundreds of thousands of hens may be killed over a salmonella scare.

Five people aged in their 20s to 80s contracted salmonella enteritidis linked to eggs produced by Victoria's Bridgewater Poultry.

Two people were taken to hospital for treatment and have since been released.

Bridgewater Poultry, based in Victoria, is recalling a range of its products that are sold across the country after a ...
Bridgewater Poultry, based in Victoria, is recalling a range of its products that are sold across the country after a potential salmonella scare. Photo: Food Standards Australia

Bridgewater Poultry's free-range and barn-laid eggs are packaged as Woolworths brand, Victorian Fresh, and Loddon Valley.

The eggs of concern have best-before dates ranging from March 20 to April 29.

They are on shelves in Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and South Australia.

All other eggs are safe to eat, Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said.

Dr Sutton said the strain could infect the egg before the shell had formed, and caused "significant food poisoning".

"It is not a normal organism found in eggs in Victoria, indeed Australia," Dr Sutton said.

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"It is like an exotic pest, it's the cane toad of salmonella."

The health and human services department with Agriculture Victoria inspectors identified the strain at Bridgewater Poultry's property during a routine check at the farm on Monday. Quarantine measures have been imposed.

The Victorian cases are suspected to be linked to properties in NSW contaminated last year, with a national investigation under way to determine how they may be connected, Dr Sutton added.

"We need to look into how the complex web of egg distribution in Australia might be linking the properties in NSW and this Victorian property," he said, noting it could take months.

This recall may lead to the culling of hens and their eggs, he flagged.

"There will be hundreds of thousands of eggs involved, hundreds of thousands of laying hens involved, so it is a very big recall," Dr Sutton said.

"It is often the case that culling, de-flocking occurs as a control measure because it is so serious."

The eggs will be pulled from store shelves, while customers are urged to bin the products or return them to the point of sale for a refund, and not feed them to animals.

Vulnerable people, including the elderly, are urged to avoid eating raw egg products.

A spokeswoman for Coles confirmed the recall of Loddon Valley Barn Laid Eggs Large 12-pack 600-gram "after the supplier advised us of potential microbial contamination".

"No other egg products sold by Coles are affected by this recall and no Coles brand products are affected. Customers can return the product to stores for a full refund," she said.

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

More than 400 cases have been reported this year, according to NSW Health data.

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

Bridgewater Poultry and Woolworths have been contacted for comment.

Industry group, Australian Eggs, said the country has some of the world's safest eggs and urged consumers to keep eating them except for the at-risk products.

Eggs of concern

  • Woolworths 12 Cage Free Eggs 700g
  • Victorian Fresh Barn Laid Eggs 600g
  • Victorian Fresh Barn Laid Eggs 700g
  • Victorian Fresh Barn Laid Eggs 800g
  • Loddon Valley Barn Laid 600g (VIC and SA only)(Best before dates ranging from March 20 to April 29.)