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Foodborne disease outbreaks

Gastro

Every year in Queensland thousands of people suffer from gastroenteritis (gastro) associated with eating contaminated food.

Current Queensland Health figures are showing a significant increase in gastrointestinal diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter compared to the same time last year. Many people may have mild symptoms and recover within a few days. However, if symptoms persist for more than 3 days or are severe, seek medical advice.

Current outbreaks

There are no current outbreaks for gastroenteritis.

Campylobacter

Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in Australia, with more than 3200 people becoming so ill in 2014 that they ended up receiving hospital treatment.

Cross-contamination is the main way Campylobacter is contracted and spread, and this can be avoided by simple hygiene measures when handling raw chicken.

Cover and chill raw chicken; cook chicken thoroughly; don't wash raw chicken as this spreads Campylobacter via splashing water; and wash used cutting boards and utensils.

More information

Salmonella

Recent Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to the production of products containing raw or undercooked eggs, and cross contamination from poor hygiene. Salmonella can also be caused by raw poultry meat.

Care is needed when using eggs, particularly when foods have been prepared using uncooked or undercooked eggs. Examples of foods that contain raw egg include mayonnaise, mousse and cheesecake.

Foods containing raw egg should never be left out of the fridge for any longer than two hours in total and, if not consumed within a day, should be thrown out.

As with all food, good hygiene procedures should always be followed when handling eggs and egg products.

More information

In Australia:

  • There are at least 4.1 million cases of gastro each year.
  • On average, there are more than 230,000 cases of Campylobacter and 55,000 cases of Salmonella each year.
  • The total annual cost to society for foodborne illness is $1.249 billion.

Symptoms and prevention

Gastro can be caused by a variety of different bacteria, fungus, virus and the toxins they produce.

Food poisoning can last days or weeks and symptoms include:

  • headache and fever
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting.

Anyone can be affected by food poisoning, but certain people are at greater risk for severe illness and include pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

Follow these tips for food handling and hygiene every time you prepare raw food to keep yourself others safe.

Read more about suspected foodborne illness.

Report a food business

If you have a concern about a food product or a food business, you can make a complaint or seek advice from the relevant government agency. Investigation into the source of the illness may be important to prevent others becoming ill.

Read more about how to report a food safety issue.

Help and advice

If you experience symptoms contact your:

You can also get free qualified health advice by calling 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Find your nearest health service.

Last updated: 26 July 2019