In a press release story that oozes with promotional fanfare, foodborne illnesses caused by bugs such as salmonella could be cut by a third in NSW within five years, with food and health authorities adding a “revolutionary” tool to their arsenal.
NSW Health and NSW Food Authority have started using whole genome sequencing technology to more quickly identify a foodborne outbreak and connect it with its source, which could reduce illnesses and even deaths.
“[It’s] a significant breakthrough that could help revolutionise how food-borne illnesses are identified, understood, tracked and managed,” said Dr Craig Shadbolt, the Food Authority’s acting chief executive.
“This will be invaluable in terms of achieving the NSW Government’s Food Safety Strategy goal of reducing foodborne illnesses caused by salmonella, campylobacter and listeria by 30 per cent by 2021.”
That sounds nice, but some practical steps, like not using raw eggs in mayo, aoili, or baked Chinese ice cream, would go farther. In Australia, rates of foodborne salmonella poisoning have climbed from 38 per 100,000 people in 2004 to 76 per 100,000 in 2016, with a record-breaking 18,170 cases last year, according to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.
A table of raw-egg-based outbreaks in Australia is available at: https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-5-1-17.xlsx-