Australia still has an egg problem: First court appearance for bakery owners that sickened 58 with Salmonella

In Feb. 2019, people started showing up sick with Salmonella at hospitals in Adelaide, South Australia.

Ultimately 58 people were sickened and health types linked the outbreak to a raw egg butter being served with Vietnamese rolls from three bakeries all owned by Angkor Bakery.

Last week, five people connected with the three Angkor Bakery stores, including two of the owners, faced the Elizabeth Magistrates Court in South Australia. They were charged with failing to comply with food standards and providing unsafe food products.

As my colleague Andrew Thomson of Think ST Solutions writes, outbreaks occur due to a systems breakdown: it’s a financial burden on everyone, including the broader food industry; it causes much pain and suffering for those involved and in legal terms a food business at the centre of an outbreak can be liable for injuries caused and prosecuted by health authorities for failing to provide safe food.

One of the bakery owners told awaiting media outside Court last week of the true cost of this incident to the business: lost public confidence and business sales and now the entire business concern is for sale; owners are unable to engage legal representation due to the financial cost; it has fractured the family.

Steve White from global insurance brokerage and risk management firm, Arthur J Gallagher (Australia), says the best way to protect your customers – and to avoid costly lawsuits, penalties and damage to reputation and business interruption – is to know your obligations, maintain food safety standards and have the right insurance.

The case has been adjourned until November.

Jello at an Australian hospital deliberately contaminated with ‘organic’ material (that means poop)

It’s bad enough to live on Jello – like I had to before my recent colonscopy – but when someone deliberately adds shit, at a hospital, things get worse.

ABC News reports jellies and custards at one of Adelaide’s biggest hospitals, Flinders Medical Centre, were contaminated with a “solid organic” product

Police would not rule out faeces, and said the material was being analysed

Health staff are assisting police with a criminal investigation

“We are satisfied that there are no patients who have been fed the contaminated foodstuffs. No threat or claim has been made in connection with this,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Joanne Shanahan said.

Asked whether it was faeces, and what colour the substance was, Assistant Commissioner Shanahan said she could not comment beyond saying the “matter was being forensically analysed”.

The contaminated items were discovered yesterday on a refrigerator tray in a hospital kitchen, and police were notified this morning.

They have now launched a criminal investigation.

“During a routine food safety inspection yesterday a small number of desserts were identified as contaminated,” said Sue O’Neill, the CEO of the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network.

“Staff were vigilant and isolated the area and raised the alarm. Management then initiated a small assessment team who investigated all other prepared food.”

Ms O’Neill said the contaminant was a “solid, organic-looking product” and was “very obvious”.

83 sickened: Long list of food safety failures identified at Adelaide InterContinental, source of Salmonella outbreak

Katrina Stokes of The Advertiser reports that documents released under the freedom of information act highlighted numerous potential problems with the Intercontinental’s cooking practices, which left 83 people ill with salmonella poisoning after eating at the Riverside restaurant on Sunday, July 31. These include the known safety risk of using the same whisk in both cooked and raw eggs.

scrambled-eggs_An Adelaide city council report, obtained by The Advertiser from Duncan Basheer Hannon, confirms the common link between the affected individuals was the consumption of scrambled eggs. Test results identified Salmonella Typhimurium.

An investigation led by the council in early august concluded a long list of “issues” with cooking processes at the hotel.

They included:

A whisk used throughout the (scrambled egg) cooking process from a raw egg mix to a cooked mix.

Scrambled eggs were continually topped up and not fully replaced between the hours of 6.30am and 9.15am.

Serving spoons were replaced only when deemed necessary, posing a potential risk for cross-contamination.

The stick blender used to mix raw eggs was inadequately sanitised.

The nightshift chef responsible for preparing the raw-egg mix did not adequately understand correct cleaning and sanitising processes.

Scrambled egg reheat temperatures were not recorded on July 31 and there was no thermometer to record temperatures because it was “lost three months ago.”

A plastic container storing raw egg slurry had a damaged lid and rough internal surfaces, which were identified as difficult to clean and sanitise.

Intercontinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said the report was a “hypothesis.”

Mr McCandless said the hotel had produced a score of “100 per cent” in a recent external audit of food safety procedures.

Audits often mean little.

That’s the same McCandless who in early Augest said it was ‘absolutely safe’ to eat at the hotel.

The hotel’s $37 full breakfast buffet at the Riverside restaurant includes scrambled eggs.


38 sick: Adelaide man with donor kidney gets Salmonella from InterContinental Adelaide buffet

Katrina Stokes of The Advertiser reports it was meant to be a 60th birthday celebration but instead Jackalyn Hirniak and her husband — who has a donor kidney — were both struck down with Salmonella poisoning after eating at the InterContinental Adelaide.

hirniak.salm.kidneyHarry Hirniak, 55, of Mount Compass, spent a week at the Flinders Medical Centre’s renal unit, where he was closely monitored by doctors for fear he would need to go back on dialysis or worse — lose his only working kidney.

The couple are two of at least 38 related salmonella cases, including 15 hospitalisations, as a result of an unknown source at the luxury hotel’s popular buffet breakfast on Sunday, July 31.

Mrs Hirniak, 60, told The Advertiser the pair fell severely ill between Sunday night and Monday morning after eating the breakfast spread.

“It didn’t do me in as much as it did Harry,” she said.

Mr Hirniak lives with one working donor kidney and had been doing “tremendously well” health-wise after he had a transplant 15 years ago.

Soon after the meal, Mrs Hirniak said they both endured “constant vomiting and diarrhoea at the same time, aches and pains and violent headaches”.

“On the Tuesday night, I said to Harry ‘you need to go to hospital’,” she said.

“It was more the dehydration that was causing the problem — his levels of toxins in his kidneys was rising,” Mrs Hirniak said.

“He was constantly on a drip and they (doctors) put him on a very strong dose of antibiotics.”

Mrs Hirniak said the end result could have been far worse.

InterContinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said the hotel was following protocol and the “wellbeing of our guests is our highest priority.

“We’ve maintained close contact with any guests who have proactively advised us they are not feeling well.

“Guests who have proactively reached out to us, we have remained in very, very close contact.”

What protocol? Release the menu served at the buffet. Any raw eggs in those dips?

Nanny state or public health? Adelaide council to inspect homes of church cake

Churchgoers who bake cakes for charity are browned off by council plans to subject their home kitchens to a health inspection.

adelaide.cake.inspectionsAlthough the cake makers from the northern suburbs church have been raising money for charity for “donkey’s years’’, they were told last week their homes would have to be visited by a Playford Council health inspector.

The council said all 12 bakers — mostly women members of the One Tree Hill Uniting Church Fellowship — would have to pass an inspection of their home kitchen’s hygiene standards, including utensils, and adequate storage of the ingredients.

Fellowship secretary and baker Win Harrip said many of the women were upset at the thought of strangers running a rule over their kitchen and would hang up their charity-cake aprons.

“We make around 20 cakes for our stall at the monthly One Tree Hill Market to raise money for the church and charities like the Flying Doctors,’’ Mrs Harrip, an aged pensioner from Elizabeth, said.


So much for going back to sleep: After 300 sickened with Salmonella from sprouts, another positive linked to same Adelaide facility

At the end of April 2016, South Australia Health’s chief medical officer Paddy Phillips said after an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul linked to sprouts sickened over 300, “This business was completely compliant with all our investigations and there is no reason to believe there are any further issues with the production of bean sprouts at this factory.”

salm.sprout.adelaide.This is the factory (right, exactly as shown). I keep saying it’s like 1978 here, and there’s probably a VW microbus out back loaded with Salmonella-infectd sprout plants.

Today, SA Health is once again urging the public to throw out their bean sprouts after a dramatic surge in salmonella cases and discovery of the dangerous bacteria in packaged sprouts sold by Thebarton producer Star Tu — the second time it has been detected at the producer this year.

Officials have ordered Star Tu to recall all of its products and stop selling immediately after Salmonella Saintpaul samples were found in packaged bean sprouts.

A packager of Star Tu products, Sunshine Sprouts, has also been ordered by SA Health to stop selling any products containing Star Tu mung bean sprouts.

SA Health chief public health officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the public should either throw out their bean sprouts or return them to the place of purchase.

Since the start of last December there have been 271 cases of confirmed Salmonella Saintpaul notified to SA Health resulting in 47 people being admitted to hospital.

South Australia usually sees around 15 to 20 cases each year.

sprout.adelaide“Our investigations then led us to the Star Tu factory and we found a positive Salmonella sample taken from a piece of equipment. Once this was cleaned and further inspections took place there was no evidence indicating any further risk.


Finding Salmonella on a piece of equipment in no way provides confidence that the problem has been solved and shows a complete lack of knowledge of how raw sprouts become contaminated at seed.

But that’s why Paddy gets the big bucks.

“Yesterday it was confirmed that since these investigations, five sealed bags produced by Star Tu were contaminated with Salmonella, and given this new evidence we have issued this factory with an order to recall and stop selling. We are also today advising South Australians to either throw out their bean sprouts or return them to the place of purchase and we are recalling all products that have come from this factory.

Li Tu, whose family owns the Star Tu business, said it had been “growing and distributing high quality bean sprouts for over 20 years”.

“As well as meeting SA Health standards, we also have had robust food safety programs since 1999 with annual checks and inspections,” he said.

Unknown“Our factory was described as being as clean as a hospital by one of SA Health’s employees.

“We’re obviously not in the business of making people sick so we do not take this matter lightly. We are working closely with SA Health to find the source of the problem.”


Raw sprouts are an unnecessary health hazard. But they are happily served up at hospitals and aged-care facilities and other places where the immunocompromised can be found in oblivious Australia.

An updated table of raw sprout related outbreaks is available at:

Never underestimate the power of denial.

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.


Going public (not) Australian style: Chef fined for eating on the job in Adelaide

We all do it — have a nibble here and there while preparing dinner — but a patron at a Glenelg eatery took exception to seeing the chef do it, landing the hungry cook a $2500 fine.

waynes-world-monkeys-might-fly-out1The customer first complained to the waitress.

When the chef continued to eat on the job, the unhappy customer contacted the local council to report the cook’s snacking.

The resulting $2500 penalty made the restaurant the only food outlet in Holdfast Bay to receive a fine in the last financial year.

Council wouldn’t reveal the name of the restaurant fined, saying the fine was punishment enough.

The details of the complainant are also being kept under wrap.


It was the filthy mixer: 16 sickened with Salmonella at Australian hospital

It wasn’t the fish, it was a filthy food mixer that sickened 16 this month with Salmonella at Burnside Hospital in Adelaide.

mixer.salm.adelaide.sep.15Hospital officials sent written warnings to more than 1,600 people about possible exposure earlier this month.

South Australia Health’s director of food safety and nutrition, Fay Jenkins, said hospital staff were unable to clean the stab mixer food appliance properly, which had led to a build-up of food residue and bacteria.

She said the equipment had been “implicated as a source” of the contamination.

“Due to the way it was constructed, the mixer was unable to be dismantled, which meant thorough cleaning and sanitizing could not occur and harmful bacteria were able to survive within the appliance.”

More for the duh files: Jenkins told a press conference this morning that “this sort of thing should’ve been picked up.”

Jenkins told reporters public hospitals have a thorough audit system which ensures the cleanliness of food operations, and that private hospitals – such as Burnside – also had compulsory audits, but that they were not undertaken by SA Health.

Audits and inspections are never enough.

And if Wal-Mart stopped selling raw sprouts a few years ago because of the risk, why are they still served in hospitals and virtually everywhere else in Australia, the ones with audits and inspections?


Australian bakery fined $166,000 for unsafe food

The former owner of a western-suburbs bakery in Adelaide has been fined more than $160,000 over rodent droppings, dead and live insects, and mouldy pastry at the premises.

fly.breadChampion Bakery and its owner, Michael John Nickols, were today fined $166,000 in the Adelaide Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to multiple breaches of the food act over the unsafe preparation and sale of the food from the Beverley store.

The court heard Nickols had sold his product to delicatessens, service stations and convenient stores throughout South Australia despite having a prohibition order placed upon his business.

The breaches were detected and photographed by Charles Sturt Council food compliance officers during inspections in September 2013 and February 2014.

Lawyers for Nickols today asked the court to be lenient on their client, who kept operating his bakery in filthy conditions despite the order, because he believed he had to work to live and had declined government-funded disability benefits he was entitled to.

In sentencing, Magistrate Bob Harrap said Nickols offending could have made unsuspecting customers very ill.

The court had earlier heard Nickols had been in the food business as a chef and supplier for more than 40 years before the offending.

He also apologised for obstructing a council food compliance officer from inspecting the business by locking a door of a room he was trying to enter in February last year.

Crack down on food safety in Adelaide

Adelaide (that’s in Australia) City Council inspectors warned dozens of city restaurants, cafes, karaoke bars, a takeaway shop and convenience store about their health breaches in 2013-14.

UnknownWhile no city businesses have been prosecuted in the past four years, triple the number of businesses were fined for a breaching a range of food laws, according to figures obtained by The Advertiser.

At least nine businesses were fined between $500 and $2500 — depending on whether the operator was a sole trader or a bigger company — for poor food storage and handling, lack of cleanliness, having animals or pets on the premises or having inadequate equipment.

Authorities warned that while they had a zero tolerance for those breaking the law, they said working with the 1000-plus city food businesses often achieved better results for public safety.

Figures show that over the past financial year, 44 businesses were warned, fined or told they had to improve their operations, compared to 28 the previous year and 19 in 2011/12.

The number of businesses ordered to improve almost tripled in three years.

Industry experts say such notices can be issued for improved maintenance such as a cracked tile on the floor under the oven or cobwebs on a toilet ceiling.

Restaurant and Catering Industry Association deputy chief executive Sally Neville, said it was reassuring the council was “cracking down on those few offenders.”