Salmonella Enteritidis

Salmonella is a bacteria commonly found in animals, including poultry. It can cause illness to humans such as gastroenteritis (commonly known as ‘gastro’) when contaminated food is consumed.

Until recently, Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) had not been detected in NSW poultry. SE is a type of Salmonella that is present in most international egg industries. Salmonellosis is one of the most common and widely distributed foodborne diseases.

SE is high-risk for causing foodborne illness in humans - which can be particularly severe for people who are elderly (over the age of 70), young children, and those with a weakened immune system.

How can Salmonella Enteritidis spread?

Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) can be spread from property to property through the movement of produce, equipment, feed, rodents, people and vehicles.

Current situation in NSW

Agriculture, health and food authorities are responding to a number of cases of human illness linked to Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) in egg production. Usually human illness linked to SE in NSW is associated with recent overseas travel; people getting infected overseas before returning home. Since May 2018, there has been an emergence of cases where people became infected from consuming food locally in NSW.

NSW government agencies have worked collaboratively to identify the sources of these cases. As a consequence, 11 NSW poultry facilities and one Victorian egg layer farm have had detections of SE. The first detection was in NSW in September 2018 more detections have been occurring as a targeted program of increased testing and surveillance continues across a number of properties. All the properties confirmed to have had SE present are interconnected in that people, eggs or equipment were moving between them.

Every effort is being made by government and industry to limit the spread of SE while assessing management options. Steps taken to minimise consumer exposure to SE include movement restrictions, farm depopulation, decontamination and improvements to biosecurity, consumer level and trade level recalls, product withdrawals, consumer advisories, media and surveillance.

For more information visit NSW Health updates and NSW Food Authority recalls & advisories.

How is NSW DPI responding?

NSW DPI is working closely with local and interstate agencies, affected producers and peak industry bodies as part of the ongoing investigation.

NSW DPI has increased surveillance and monitoring at poultry farms and, where necessary, biosecurity directions (PDF, 483.94 KB) have been issued to individual properties, including the quarantine of premises to stop movement of eggs into the marketplace.

Advice for consumers

NSW has strong systems in place at all points along the food supply chain, from paddock to plate, to help reduce the risk of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE).

In the event there is a food safety risk, the recall of affected products is a normal and routine part of a business’ food safety system. During an egg recall, consumers are advised they should not eat the eggs and to dispose of them in the garbage or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Proof of purchase is not required for recalled products.

FAQs

Salmonellosis symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms usually start around six to 72 hours after the contaminated food is eaten and usually last for four to seven days but can continue for much longer.

If you have immediate health concerns you should contact your medical professional in the first instance.

To minimise food safety risks, eggs should be cooked thoroughly, this means they are cooked until whites are completely firm and yolk begins to thicken.

For more information on cooking eggs safely, visit Enjoy eggs safely.

For information on egg recalls visit the NSW Food Authority recalls & advisories and NSW Health updates.

Advice for farmers and industry providers

FAQs

Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) can be identified in the poultry industry through:

  • Investigation of health and disease issues of birds to determine the cause of the symptoms that may be associated with SE
  • Tracing back to farms or other businesses associated with an SE-affected farm or business
  • Tracing back to farms when there are cases of food-borne illness in humans
  • Routine Salmonella monitoring programs on poultry farms and facilities (e.g. grading floors)

If a farm has confirmed positive tests for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) it is quarantined under an Individual Biosecurity Direction (IBD) that is issued by NSW DPI. The IBD puts legal restrictions on the farm so that eggs, birds, other livestock, equipment and litter are only able to be removed under a permit to a licenced or approved facility.

Tracing of facilities or other businesses with recent contact with this farm will be undertaken and samples from those properties will be collected and investigated.

A DPI liaison officer will be available for the affected farm to provide advice and support.

Eggs on the farm are restricted from movement or sale. DPI may issue a permit for the eggs to go to pulping. Any movement of eggs, birds etc. is only allowed under a permit to an approved facility.

Farms are required to undergo full decontamination and undertake testing for SE before any birds can be placed back on the property.

The farm must have three tests over three months that return negative results for SE before restrictions under the IBD are removed. After birds are placed on the farm it will continue to be monitored under an SE surveillance program.

You should have a documented biosecurity program to monitor for and prevent the introduction of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) on your property or the spread of bacteria between poultry sheds. This could include:

  • An appropriate vaccination strategy after discussion with your private veterinarian
  • Buying pullets that are tested and confirmed to be SE-free
  • Buying feed from a mill that monitors for Salmonella
  • Becoming a member of the Egg Standards of Australia voluntary quality assurance program
  • Having a documented ingredient and feed testing program for home diets – sighted during audits
  • Not allowing people coming back from overseas and suffering from diarrhoea to work on the farm or handle birds
  • Storing eggs on-farm promptly in a cool environment where the thermostat temperature is set at less than 15⁰C, but greater than 1⁰C
  • Providing birds with drinking water derived from town water or water that has been effectively sanitised in line with the National Water Biosecurity Manual - Poultry Production
  • Implementing an effective auditable vermin control program and using rodenticides in compliance with Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) label instructions
  • Storing feed in areas not accessible to other animals (including vermin)
  • Ensuring workers, particularly in the egg collection processing area, are familiar with and follow personal hygiene measures to minimise the risk of transferring Salmonella from humans to poultry or eggs
  • Following recommended industry practices on the farm, particularly in the egg collection and grading area, in order to minimise risks associated with SE cross-contamination between equipment, eggs and humans
  • Cleaning shared equipment before it is used

For more information read our fact sheet (PDF, 195.1 KB) and tips on rodent control (PDF, 236.78 KB).

  • There is a National Salmonella Enteritidis Monitoring & Accreditation Program (NSEMAP) available to all commercial egg producers in Australia. NSW DPI administers the NSEMAP.
  • An accreditation certificate can be issued by NSW DPI for accredited flocks, which can be used as evidence of the SE-free status of these flocks and their eggs for export markets.
  • It is estimated that over 75 per cent of Australian layers are currently part of Salmonella monitoring through the NSEMAP.

Egg Standards of Australia is a voluntary quality assurance program that has been developed to provide a practical mechanism to demonstrate compliance and continuous improvement with egg production standards. Egg Standards of Australia provides a compliance framework for egg farmers in meeting the needs of regulators, retailers, farmers and customers in areas including hen welfare, egg quality, biosecurity, food safety, work health and safety, and environmental management. Further information is available at Egg Standards Australia.

Contact us

Further information

NSW DPI fact sheets

Media Releases