Durban - A potjie competition for an Assagay family took a turn for the worse when a dozen participants fell ill, allegedly after eating a pudding made of raw egg whites.
Seven of the participants, all family and friends, spent at least four nights in hospital , where they said they had been treated for salmonella poisoning.
News of their brush with the bacteria that infects raw or undercooked meat, poultry and eggs, comes just after uMhlanga restaurant Old Town Italy had a salmonella outbreak after making hollandaise sauce from raw eggs that contained the bacteria.
Salmonella is an infection that usually causes vomiting, diarrhoea , cramping and dehydration.
Helen Grosvenor, of Assagay, said her annual potjie competition turned from fun to shock as she and her family began vomiting.
“Within 36 hours, many of the people at the function got sick. We went to the casualty ward at the hospital and the next day we were admitted. We spent four to five days receiving treatment, and thankfully we are now okay,” she said.
After considering what could have been the cause, Grosvenor said they narrowed the possible causes to the pudding.
“The lady who prepared the dish liaised with the shop to find out where the eggs came from to try to find out more information,” said Grosvenor.
The shop was uMhlanga Spar, and manager Tyrone Kerr said they in turn liaised with the supplier of the eggs, Finchley Barn Eggs, and were awaiting results of tests on the eggs.
“If the tests come back positive, then definitely we would pull the products from the store,” said Kerr.
Meanwhile, Rowan Holt, of Finchley Barn Eggs, the producer of the eggs in question, said they were very surprised by the incident, but had been committed to an open process from the minute they were informed of it.
“We collected shells of eggs that had been used in the dish and sent them to an independent lab for testing. We are awaiting the final results. However, indications right now are that the salmonella did not come from our eggs,” said Holt.
The provincial health department referred queries to the eThekwini health department. The municipality was only able to provide details of the outbreak at Old Town Italy.
eThekwini spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said that, after an intense investigation at the restaurant, the outbreak was “most likely” caused by salmonella, which may have been present in the raw eggs used to make the sauce.
The health department said it would monitor the situation.
Public health specialist Dr Ozayr Mohamed, of UKZN’s public health medicine department, said salmonella was a bacterial infection which affected the intestinal tract.
“Most people are infected by it through contaminated water and food such as raw or undercooked meat or poultry. Most people won’t have any infections. But severe symptoms are fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea . This is usually visible within eight to 72 hours,” he said.
Mohamed said it was important to wash hands, especially when dealing with food, after using the restroom, or interacting with animals. He said food handlers must wash food before preparing meals and should always wear gloves, and that it was most likely contamination occurred because of bacteria on someone’s hands.
“Once we have an overdose or high load of bacteria, this weakens your system and you get ill,” he said.
Mohamed said adequate hydration was used to treat diarrhoea, and antibiotics were usually prescribed.
Independent On Saturday