A food safety expert has shared what may have caused a major food poisoning outbreak at a popular wedding venue.
Attendees at two separate events at Melbourne’s The Park were struck down with suspected food poisoning last week.
A conference dinner held by The Australian & New Zealand Burn Association (ANZBA) on September 13 saw at least 70 medical practitioners displaying symptoms of suspected gastroenteritis.
Three days later, at least 30 wedding guests were similarly reported sick after attending a dinner at the Albert Park venue.
At least 100 people from two separate events suffered food poisoning after visiting wedding venue The Park, Melbourne (pictured)
Both events were served roasted chicken breast as a main course option.
Gary Kennedy, a food scientist and owner of one of Australia’s leading independent food safety consultancy businesses, Correct Training Systems, said he believes the outbreak may not have been caused by the food at all.
‘The interesting thing in this case is the guests were served different food at the different events,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘So one thought is that it has nothing to do with the food.
‘One of the staff may be sick and non-symptomatic, carrying a food-borne disease, and the other staff don’t realise.’
Food safety specialist Gary Kennedy (pictured) argued the food may have not been the cause of the outbreak, rather one of the staff may be carrying a non-symptomatic food-borne disease
Mr Kennedy argued food poisoning cases like this can sometimes come from unsuspected food items, not always notorious items like meat.
‘Another possibility is people may automatically think it might be the meat, but it may not be at all – it may be the salad, the dressing or the wedding cake, for example,’ he said.
‘Because only 30 people from the 300 guests [at the wedding] got sick, if I was doing the investigation I would look at what those people ate to cause it.
‘It makes sense it would’ve been one ingredient or one small thing because of the small amount of people that got food poisoning.’
Kennedy said if it was the food, the outbreak may be a case of salmonella or campylobacter (pictured, The Park Melbourne)
If the outbreak was caused by the food, it would’ve most likely been the chicken, the food safety expert added.
TIPS TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF GASTRO
Wash hands with soap and water:
- after using the toilet
- after changing a nappy
- after cleaning up vomit
- before eating
- before preparing food
Stay home until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped
Source: Victoria Department of Health
A 3D rendering of gastroenteritis
‘If it is chicken, as that’s a fairly notorious food item in functions – then the food poisoning is most likely salmonella or campylobacter.
‘It’s hard to see if chicken has been undercooked, versus when you cook beef you can see when it’s cooked as it changes colour, it goes brown.’
Mr Kennedy said he would be surprised if they didn’t find the cause of these outbreaks, as so many people got sick and many of them were doctors.
‘Usually if you’ve gotten sick from this sort of thing you would’ve been contacted by the Department of Health and put through their statistics,’ he added.
‘They would try and find out if you ate the same food or shared meals to figure out the root cause.’
The expert recommended following basic hygiene rules such as keeping raw food away from ready-to-eat products, and making sure meat items are cooked properly to avoid outbreaks like these from happening.
Bahaa Harb, The Park and River’s Edge venue manager said it was investigating the cause of the ‘reported outbreak’.
‘We are working closely with event guests and with council to determine the cause of the outbreak,’ Mr Harb said.
A ‘precautionary deep clean’ of the venue was approved by Port Phillip Council, he added.
Victoria’s Department of Health confirmed it was involved in investigating the outbreak.