Salmonella eggs hero
3 August 2021

Eggs tested for salmonella bacteria

Consumers advised to cook eggs thoroughly.

Poultry farms responsible for 80 percent of the country’s egg production are being tested for salmonella enteritidis.

There’s developing evidence of a link between poultry products and recent cases of salmonella enteritidis in humans, New Zealand Food Safety said.

So far this year, there have been 47 reported cases of the illness. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.

Testing of poultry operations began earlier this year after the bacteria was found at an Auckland poultry farm.

Restrictions have been placed on three North Island egg-laying operations to prevent infected eggs reaching consumers.

The testing programme has now been extended to 20 egg-laying facilities and five chick rearers. Testing is expected to take two months.

New Zealand Food Safety said efforts had focussed on egg producers rather than meat “as farms have existing measures to protect against salmonella and cooking chicken meat kills the bacterium”.

To reduce the risk of illness, it’s advising consumers to:

  • Keep eggs in the fridge, and cook them until the white is firm and yolk is starting to thicken.

  • Avoid raw or undercooked egg products, especially if you’re preparing food for children under two, pregnant women, elderly people or anyone with a compromised immune system.

  • Wash your hands after touching eggs, eat them before the date on the carton and only use clean, uncracked eggs that are free from dirt and faecal matter.

Member comments

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J W.
31 Aug 2021
Why do we allow pathogens in our food chain?

In Europe, all hens are required to be vaccinated against salmonellosis. Eggs are not washed (and, in some countries, not refrigerated) since condensation could lead to salmonellosis contamination.[7]
In the US, it is important to keep eggs refrigerated since not all hens are vaccinated. There eggs and egg products are commonly pasteurized which renders them safe.
In NZ we neither nor pasteurize - the poor egg suppliers would go out of business it they were required to deliver safe food! The health department mops up the result.

Richard S.
11 Aug 2021
Free range eggs can present a higher health risk

I used to be involved in a chicken hatchery business. Hens and roosters roamed together and we observed that eggs laid on the floor or in dirty conditions were less likely to hatch. In some cases floor eggs, if incubated would explode because bacteria that had invaded through the porous shell had grown inside the egg. So the policy was only to incubate clean eggs. As I was involved in all the different poultry farming styles including free-range as above, I personally feel safer with caged eggs, as they are laid in more hygenic conditions.

I suggest that with the popular rise in free-range eggs, the health incidents will increase.

Joanne W.
09 Aug 2021
Poached eggs

Just interested on how cooked you would have to poach eggs?

Mark L.
09 Aug 2021
Slightly off topic

During my OE in 1988, while working on a free range poultry farm in the UK, a Health Minister told the media that most eggs were infected with Salmonella. The egg market crashed overnight. I was laid off and it took about a week before it was revealed that there was no substance to the claim and the market bounced back. But in the mean time some 4 million hens had a premature death and an estimated 400 million eggs were dumped.

Kate M.
07 Aug 2021
Battery farms versus free range

Is there any link between battery farmed chickens / eggs and salmonella. Is free range a safer way to go? (Not that I'd ever consider buying battery farmed eggs myself, but I might be inclined to ask cafe's, I am on the cusp of asking already, but feel self-conscious about it...)

Thorsten S.
07 Aug 2021
Home grown is best

Had own chooks for a number of years. Eat the tradescantia and kitchen non compositible scraps and guaranteed salmonella free!

Matt S.
07 Aug 2021
Not guranteed

Home grown are not guaranteed salmonella free. Home chickens can still be infected by salmonella even if they don’t show symptoms.

Sue K.
07 Aug 2021
Salmonella in poultry farms

Why can’t we find out which poultry ‘farms’ (factories?) have had salmonella contamination?

Martin C.
07 Aug 2021

I too would like to know which eggs to avoid

Peter I.
07 Aug 2021
Potential false sense of security.

The article says restrictions have already been placed on identified farms to prevent infected eggs reaching consumers so what is there to avoid?
Until the broader tests are completed on other farms it would be false to assume all others are safe. That’s why precautions are advised - we can’t yet be sure of safety simply by avoiding the known ones.