Durban - Four days after a suspected outbreak of salmonella food poisoning, Durban residents are still in the dark about the source of the health scare.
Colin Steenhuisen of the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) confirmed that the latest test results from egg samples at Old Town Italy and its supplier showed no signs of salmonella.
However, the uMhlanga restaurant has sent more samples for a second round of testing this weekend. The results are expected later this week.
The Mercury broke the news of a possible salmonella outbreak in the province last Friday when at least 11 cases of food poisoning were reported by those who ate egg-based dishes at the Italian eatery last week.
Since then, at least 10 more cases of salmonella poisoning have been recorded over the weekend.
Seven participants of a family potjie competition spent at least four nights in hospital and said they had been treated for salmonella poisoning. The Assagay family fell ill after allegedly eating a pudding made of raw egg whites.
Four children attending a Cowies Hill creche were reportedly confirmed by doctors to have salmonellosis.
A restaurant in Florida Road was reportedly closed for two days after its patrons reported falling ill.
Steenhuisen said they were just as “baffled” by the outbreak as initial test results cleared the restaurant and egg supplier of any salmonella bacteria.
According to Steenhuisen, the children at the Cowies Hill creche did not consume any eggs, but were also diagnosed with salmonella poisoning.
“At this point, the source of the outbreak could be anything. We are not ruling out eggs, but it was not in the eggs that we tested. We are now waiting for the results of the second batch of tests being carried out.”
He assured Durban residents there was no need to panic and stressed that all food - including eggs, meat and vegetables - needed to be cooked fully and properly.
“The yolk should be properly cooked through. Also, people need to make sure that their hands, dishes, utensils, storage spaces and surfaces are properly cleaned when preparing and serving meals,” Steenhuisen said.
The senior operations manager of Old Town Italy, Clifford Barratt, said the eatery had taken extra precautions since the first reported case of salmonella poisoning.
He said all restaurant staff, including him, would go for stool swab testing today to ascertain whether anyone could be a carrier of the bacteria.
“Although our eggs and our supplier have been cleared, it is possible someone might have consumed something at home and the bacteria is in their system,” he said.
He said they had discontinued selling dishes that needed raw or partially cooked eggs.