Salmonella outbreak reaches 144 probable cases

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Investigations are continuing into how the products became contaminated
Investigations are continuing into how the products became contaminated

Related tags Food safety Foodborne illness

The Tripod Farmers salad leaf Salmonella anatum outbreak has reached 144 cases nationally.

These notifications are made up of ten confirmed and 134 suspected cases and the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services told us that there should be another update on case numbers later in the week.

Tripod Farmers is also expecting further test results imminently to determine the cause of Salmonella contamination.

The firm has suspended some of its farming and processing operations while the investigation continues and the problem has been identified and fixed.

Recalled products had use by dates up to and including 14 February.

There are around 3,500 Salmonella cases notified to the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services every year but in recent years only around 10 have been the strain involved in this outbreak.

Probable cases and overseas distribution

Victoria has nine confirmed and 99 probable cases, New South Wales has one confirmed and eight probable.

South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have some probable cases and the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania have no cases. 

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) in Hong Kong said some product had been imported.

It added Wash N Toss Salad Mix with use-by-date of February 13 was affected but had been re-exported through a distributor and none had been sold in the local market.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) confirmed that the implicated products, ‘Wash N Toss’ salad leaves were imported into the country. 

Thailand has also been affected but the product has not been exported to Malaysia.

Frank Ruffo, Tripod Farmers managing director, said the detections of Salmonella were part of routine testing on product as part of the standard food safety and quality program.

“In the interests of public safety, we have recalled the entire production batches from which the positive samples were detected,” ​he said.

“We are continuing to work closely with health authorities to determine the cause and extent of the problem, and with our customers to manage an effective recall.

“The company apologises to everyone affected by the recall, and thanks the public for the way it is responding to the recall.”

PMA-ANZ reaction

The Produce Marketing Association and the Fresh Produce Safety Centre said consumers can be confident that ready-to-eat salads on retail shelves are safe and healthy.

Richard Bennett, PMA-ANZ technology manager, said Australians have been consuming bagged salads for over 20 years and eat more than 205 million bags per year. 

“That’s an impressive total, and it has an impressive food safety record. But the Salmonella outbreak...has put all growers on notice that they cannot be complacent about food safety.”

Bennett praised authorities as most foodborne illness outbreaks are never traced back to a source.

“The investigative work by the department and the excellent traceability of the producer and retailers has achieved a quick result. We now know that all contaminated product is completely out of the system and we can move quickly to rebuild consumer confidence,” ​he said earlier this month. 

“There’s been a glitch in the system of one producer, and that presents an opportunity for improvement. Unfortunately, the investigation is yet to reveal if the cause of the contamination is environmental, personal or equipment-related, but we hope that it is identified soon so that salad food safety systems can be strengthened even further.”​ 

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