Salmonella Cases on the Rise but Food Poisoning Drops

The overall number of food borne illnesses in Australia is steadily dropping, experts are still worried as cases of salmonella poisoning is growing.
August 15, 2015

Reports on the state of food poisoning in Australia over the past few years appear to have produced some fairly mixed results. 

The good news is that the overall number of food poisoning cases has dropped, but the bad news is that the number of salmonella poisoning cases has actually increased.

Since 2012, the number of cases of salmonella poisoning in Victoria has increased by approximately 50 percent; while over the last year, the number of cases reported in Queensland has more than doubled. 

Salmonellosis poisoning refers to illnesses that are caused by one of the 2,500 different types of salmonella bacteria. The illness typically lasts for between 2-7 days and can cause the sufferer to experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and dehydration.

Salmonella bacteria grows and multiplies most rapidly on food that is high in protein and left in a moist environment between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius. One of the best ways to prevent food from being kept in this environment is to maintain a high level of food safety - keep cold food cold and hot food hot.

New Food Safety Standards

Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia New Zealand (FPSCANZ) has introduced new guidelines, aimed at improving the current standards of the Australian food industry.

"Our aim was to reinvigorate the safety, to give it greater focus, make information available to industry,” said Richard Bennett, technology manager for the Fresh Produce Safety Centre and the Fresh Produce Marketing Australia New Zealand.

The rise in salmonella cases is an area of concern for Mr Bennett and FPSCANZ.

"Our supply chains have become more complex, our meal solutions have become a lot more complex. It's not just chops and three veg as it used to be… Shelf life is stretched to the limit.”

"It's across all food items, and Australian consumers can expect to fall ill from food contamination every four or five years on average due to contaminated food."

Why Salmonella?

According to Joseph Ekman, Fresh Produce Group’s technical director, one of the biggest threats to food safety is microbes because of their ability to rapidly grow and spread.

"While salmonella bacteria are most commonly associated with livestock and chickens, they have also been responsible for food safety outbreaks associated with fresh produce," says FPSCANZ’s new Food Safety Guideline.

Washing fresh produce but not raw proteins before use and ensuring that all equipment, surfaces and your hands are clean are some of the best defences against salmonella and other food poisoning.