Safe Food Production Queensland (Safe Food) has partnered with the Queensland egg industry to develop a new Salmonella Enteritidis Prevention Plan (SEPP).
The SEPP is designed to improve hygiene and biosecurity controls on-farm and within egg grading and handling environments, to protect against Salmonella Enteritidis and ensure long-term sustainability of the industry.
Salmonella Enteritidis Detected in NSW
In 2018 and 2019, Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) was detected on several farms in NSW and one in Victoria. The specific strain of SE isolated during investigations was found to be a rare strain not commonly found in Australia and has been associated with over 230 confirmed cases of foodborne illness since May 2018.
Compliance checks by the NSW Department of Primary Industries on infected farms in NSW identified that the spread of SE was influenced by a lack of hygiene controls and biosecurity provisions.
What is SE?
SE is a strain of Salmonella that infects the contents of an egg before being laid. Eggs from an infected flock may, therefore, be visibly clean and free from cracks, but may still present a health risk, especially if eggs are not cooked thoroughly before consuming (i.e. served runny).
This strain of SE could significantly impact Australia’s egg and poultry industries. The Australian egg industry has already witnessed its dramatic effects, with infected farms in NSW and Victoria placed under strict quarantine orders and infected flocks destroyed.
Queensland’s Response and the SEPP
Following the detection of SE in NSW, Safe Food conducted a survey of accredited egg businesses in Queensland to determine what biosecurity and hygiene provisions were in place to prevent the spread of this organism.
Results indicated that whilst accreditation holders have a high standard of compliance for tracing eggs through the supply chain, and managing cracked and dirty eggs, greater emphasis is required to address specific risks associated with SE.
An industry-led working group was formed to develop an agreed SEPP, comprising of small and large egg businesses, industry bodies and representatives from the Queensland government. From the SEPP, several new standard operating procedures (SOPs) were established, which all accredited egg producers and processors must incorporate into their food safety programs in 2020.
Safe Food has contacted all accredited egg business that will be impacted by the SEPP, requesting them to provide specific information on their current biosecurity provisions. If you are an accredited egg producer or processors and have not received this communication, please contact Safe Food on (07) 3253 9800.
In 2020, Safe Food will conduct its routine compliance monitoring activities onsite and work with accredited businesses to ensure they have all necessary biosecurity provisions to protect against SE.
An industry-led initiative
Safe Food would like to acknowledge Queensland’s egg industry for its proactive response to SE. The SEPP has been an industry-led initiative, developed in partnership with government, with us all working together to protect Queensland’s egg laying businesses and ensure long-term sustainability of the industry.