FIVE people at Great Western’s Green Eggs farm have lost their jobs as a result of yesterday’s restrictions placed on the company by the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
The DEPI and Chief Health Officer, Dr Rosemary Lester yesterday enforced the restricted sale of eggs from Green Eggs farm at Great Western until additional cleaning and hygiene measures are in place to improve food safety.
The measures follow more than 200 people becoming ill with gastroenteritis after eating the Great Western company’s eggs at the Bottle of Milk restaurant in Torquay and Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda.
Owner of Green Eggs Alan Green said the company had no choice but to let go five workers from the grading and packaging department as distribution is now stalled.
“From Green Eggs’ point of view we are totally devastated,” he said.
“Our number one priority is to do our best to make sure there are no health repercussions once the product is sent out into the community.
“We are an accredited egg farm that does its absolute best to produce first grade quality under the national scheme and this is a massive blow.
“We have got people around us from the department now helping to find out what has caused this issue.
“The last thing we need is more jobs lost.”
Mr Green said the company would now source equipment from overseas to wash each egg before it is distributed around the state.
He said importing that kind of equipment may take up to six weeks and, even then, it is still not guaranteed to rectify the situation.
“Washing the eggs brings along its own issues ... and there is a possibility that this can happen again,” he said.
“We can only do our best to ensure the product we distribute is of the highest grade, but after that it is out of our control and using raw egg products always has a degree of risk.”
The Victorian Department of Health has issued a warning to people to be aware of the increased risk of eating foods containing raw or under-cooked eggs.
Food and drinks containing raw and undercooked eggs, including mayonnaise, aioli, eggnog and tiramisu have been associated in the past with salmonella outbreaks in Victoria.
Dr Lester said there was no need for customers who had recently purchased Green Eggs to throw the products away.
“Green Eggs are marketed in distinctive packaging and people who have bought the product from their supermarket in recent weeks and still have eggs in their fridge should only use them for cooked dishes and foods,” she said.
“Restaurants wishing to prepare raw egg dishes or dressings should source those eggs from another source until such time as we are satisfied that the changes at the farm have been successfully implemented.”
Green Eggs supplies a range of restaurants, cafes and other eateries, farmers’ markets and a number of supermarkets across the state.
Mr Green said the current health issue would have a ripple effect.
“We are very keen to get to the source of the problem, where ever that may be and get back to supplying our customers,” he said.
“The fact is there’s a massive egg shortage now which puts pressure on a lot of people in the hospitality industry.”