Health officials on South Australia are reporting 17 confirmed Salmonella cases linked to sandwiches, wraps, rolls and focaccias purchased from Gawler South Bakery in the past two weeks, prompting them remind the public of the importance of safe food handling practices.

Salmonella bacteria (red)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Salmonella bacteria (red)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

“Of these confirmed cases, three patients have been so severely ill they needed to be hospitalised,” SA Health’s Director of Public Health Dr Kevin Buckett said.

“This is particularly concerning because salmonella makes people extremely sick and, like most cases of food borne illness, is preventable through good hygiene and safe food handling practices.

“Food businesses and people preparing food in the home need to understand how important food safety is, especially at this time of year when it’s busy and the weather is warm.

“We urge food handlers to follow these four basic food safety tips: cook food thoroughly; clean hands and surfaces that come into contact with food; chill cooked food quickly and keep it cool until eaten; and separate raw and uncooked food from cooked and ready-to-eat products.

“Gawler South Bakery is cooperating with SA Health and is continuing to trade. However it has ceased serving several sandwich-type products containing chicken and other fillings. SA Health, in conjunction with the local council and the business, is investigating its food practices and will continue inspections of their sites.”

Salmonella infection usually results from ingestion of the bacteria from contaminated food, water or hands. Eggs, meat and poultry are particularly high risk foods.

People can experience symptoms of salmonella infection between 12 and 72 hours after exposure and symptoms can last for three to seven days.

Symptoms include fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, headaches, stomach cramps and loss of appetite. Anyone who develops these symptoms is advised to see their doctor, particularly young children, older people and pregnant women who are most at risk if they contract food poisoning.

It is especially important that if you have these symptoms, you do not prepare or handle food.

There have been 1414 salmonella cases reported to date this year, compared to 1561 for the whole of last year.