Good news for Green Eggs

GREAT WESTERN - The Department of Health has lifted a notice advising people and businesses to only use eggs from the Green Eggs company in cooked products and dishes.

The deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Michael Ackland said the advisory has been lifted as he is satisfied that measures instituted by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and the Department of Health meant eggs from the company should mean the eggs are now safe for consumption.

Green Eggs owner Alan Green has welcomed the development, the first step in a process that will involve re-establishing the wide customer base.

The Great Western based business lost 70 per cent of sales and eight staff were put off as a result of the Chief Health Officer's alert issued on March 3, after eggs from the company were linked to outbreaks of gastroenteritis due to salmonella at two Melbourne restaurants which used them in raw-egg products.

"This is very positive news, it is the first positive move in five weeks, we are excited that the customers will now come back," Mr Green said.

Cleaning requirements imposed on the company will remain in place indefinitely. Mr Green said they pose a logistical nightmare.

"We simply don't have the facilities and resources to be able to afford the cleaning equipment, so instead they have to be moved to the other side of Melbourne to be cleaned," he said.

"We've had all our eggs washed for four weeks now, and that will make a huge difference from our customers' point of view."

Dr Ackland said thoroughly cooking eggs renders them safe from contaminants such as salmonella.

"The company has worked hard to meet the requirements put in place as a result of the outbreaks, and I am satisfied now that there is no increased risk if eggs supplied by Green Eggs are used in raw-egg products," he said.

"Having said that, people need to be aware of the inherent increased risk of eating foods containing raw or under-cooked eggs from any source.

"Food and drinks containing raw and undercooked eggs, including mayonnaise, aioli, eggnog and tiramisu have been associated with salmonella outbreaks.

"These foods can be a risk, especially for the elderly and people with lowered immunity, children and pregnant women."

With the business's grading floor unable to operate, the eight staff who lost their jobs (six in the grading floor, two in egg production) will remain out of work, but Mr Green is optimistic given time they'll be needed.

"We would hope that once this is cleared up to be able to put six staff back on the grading floor and one more into egg production, we also have many truck drivers who have been looking for work," he said.

A Department of Health official will visit the site next week for an on site inpection - the first time anyone has visited since the notice was issued.

"We are confident that our eggs are totally free of salmonella, we've never been shown test results to the contrary," Mr Green said.

"We remain dumbfounded that if the results were so strong that it required these types of measures, that when we asked to see them, why couldn't we be shown?"

Dr Ackland has reminded people to cook eggs until they are hot all the way through, which kills any bacteria that may be present and ensures they are safe to eat.

"As a general food safety measure, people should check eggs are clean and have no visible cracks before they buy them," he said.

"Eggs are a highly nutritious and healthy food and it is important that everyone has confidence that they are safe to eat at all times.

"After purchase, refrigerate your eggs, preferably in the original carton so you know the best-before date. If you find a dirty or cracked egg, throw it out."

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