Supermarkets Shun Best Food Safety Practices

Supermarkets around the country continue to display eggs on warm shelves instead of in the fridge, despite the rise in the number of salmonella cases.
January 16, 2016

Many supermarkets around the country continue to display eggs on warm shelves, despite a continual rise in the number of salmonella cases.

Before making their way to retail stores, eggs in Australia must be inspected for cracks, washed and graded. They are kept in cool rooms and transported in refrigerated trucks - so, why are they not always refrigerated in supermarkets?

According to the president of the Victorian Farmers Federation’s egg group, Brian Ahmed, “Eggs should be treated exactly like raw meat – don't look at an egg any different way."

By not refrigerating eggs, these supermarkets are keeping them in an environment perfect for rapid bacterial growth. In ideal conditions, the number of bacteria can double every hour, which means that after 12 hours, one bacteria can multiply into 33 million.

One of the best ways to prevent food from being kept in this environment is to maintain a high level of food safety. Foods that are high in protein, like eggs, are considered high-risk and need to be stored at the right temperatures.

  • When refrigerating, high-risk food should be kept under 5 °C
  • When freezing, high-risk food should be kept under -18 °C
  • When cooking or reheating, high-risk food should reach at least 75 °C for three minutes and not be allowed to drop below 60 °C

Eggs Linked to Major Foodborne Outbreaks

Eggs have made nationwide headlines as the cause of recent outbreaks of foodborne illness. An investigation into the gastro outbreak at Melbourne’s Langham Hotel reportedly found that raw egg mayonnaise was responsible for making over 90 people ill, 16 of which had to be hospitalised.

Also, the criminal trial against the owners of former Canberra restaurant Copa Brazilian Churrasco is set to begin next month. They’re accused of serving their diners potato salad dressed in raw egg mayonnaise in 2013, which reportedly caused more than 160 people to become ill.

Salmonella Cases in Australia on the Rise

Reports released last year indicate that since 2012, the number of cases of salmonella poisoning in Victoria has increased by approximately 50 per cent; while since 2014, the number of cases reported in Queensland has more than doubled.

4 Tips on How to Avoid Food Poisoning

The best defence against foodborne illnesses is preventing it from happening in the first place. Once an individual becomes ill, there is often not much they can do except wait to get better. So, what can you do to stop it?

  • Keep your workspace clean and sanitised
  • Maintain a high level of personal hygiene and make sure you thoroughly wash your hands
  • Wash and sanitise all equipment to avoid cross-contamination between foods; and
  • Store, chill and cook foods in and to the correct temperatures.