264 sick with Salmonella: Maybe Brisbane’s standards suck? Convention and Exhibition Centre has passed three Council inspections since outbreak

Was there any raw-egg based dishes such as a mayonnaise or aoili that sickens hundreds of Australians each year?

brisbane.conf.centre.foodA second outbreak of salmonella has been linked to the BCEC in the same week that 254 people have been confirmed ill — with 22 cases of salmonella — fowling a principal’s conference at the venue on February 26-27.

Fundraising Institute of Australia chief executive Rob Edwards said about 10 people are ill, five with confirmed cases of salmonella, across Australia and New Zealand after eating at the venue from February 18 — 20 for the organisation’s conference.

A Brisbane City Council spokeswoman said the BCEC had been inspected three times since March 3 — when the outbreak became public — and they were ‘compliant to a Five Star Safety Standard’ under Council’s EatSafe program.

Maybe Brisbane’s standards suck.

BCEC general manager Bob O’Keeffe said Queensland Health had informed them 56 swab tests from kitchens and food products had tested negative to salmonella.

Hot puddings and custards have been now struck off the menu pending the investigations.

On March 3 whole eggs and poultry were also banned.

So what was on the menu during these events?

Mater foundation executive director of fundraising Lesley Ray, 53, chaired the FIA conference and was first to fall ill and attended an emergency department on February 22.

On February 25 she told the FIA she believed she was sick from conference food and she believes this was passed onto the BCEC.

Two days later a blood test confirmed she had salmonella poisoning.

Canberra charity worker Pearl Lee, 45, was hospitalised after being struck down with salmonella.

She got confirmation of salmonella poisoning on February 24 and has accused the BCEC of ignoring her illness, saying they had 48 hours’ notice their food had poisoned her before the principal’s conference was held.

She says she passed on her diagnosis to the FIA who then contacted the BCEC but Mr Edwards said they didn’t tell BCEC people had fallen ill until February 25 — still a day before the principal’s conference.

“We had a few people calling me saying they were ill and did we know what was going on,” Mr Edwards said.

Mr O’Keeffe has refuted this, saying the BCEC wasn’t aware of Ms Lee’s illness until March 4.

Queensland Health – which is seemingly useless — wouldn’t reveal when they learnt people had fallen ill from the FIA conference, instead a spokeswoman said they would “follow up any reports of illness in attendees at other conferences held at the BCEC in the recent period.”

Make the full menu public.

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About Doug Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here.