Canberra restaurants that use raw eggs in their food are "dicing with death" according to the ACT's chief health officer. Photo: Supplied
Canberra restaurants that use raw eggs in their food are "dicing with death", according to the ACT's chief health officer.
Dr Paul Kelly told a public hearing on Thursday that eating cooked eggs was the only way diners could protect themselves from salmonella infections caused by egg products.
The comments follow Canberra's largest salmonella outbreak last month, which was traced back to raw egg mayonnaise served at the Copa Brazilian restaurant in Dickson.
Dr Kelly told a select committee on estimates hearing at the Legislative Assembly that ACT Health had identified 162 cases of gastroenteritis as a result of the outbreak. He likened serving raw egg mayonnaise to "playing Russian roulette".
"Whilst most eggs are quite safe every so often there's one that isn't," Dr Kelly said.
"In a busy restaurant whereby this particular mayonnaise was being made in six-litre lots using up to 30 eggs at a time, you start to increase your risk of getting a bad egg. Eventually you are going to get a bad egg and if you serve raw egg products in your restaurant then you're dicing with death,'' he said.
"I think we've got to take that seriously as a public health authority and we've been very strongly putting that information out to restaurants."
A Victorian egg supplier has been under investigation over the outbreak.
Earlier this month, Dr Kelly called for a national approach for dealing with the issue of raw egg products.
On Thursday he said diners could avoid infections by eating cooked eggs, but restaurants had the option of purchasing pasteurised egg products.
"These are eggs that have undergone a procedure which makes them more safe, not 100 per cent safe, but more safe than raw egg."
Dr Kelly said 26 patients had gone to the Canberra Hospital during the outbreak and 111 to Calvary. One day during the outbreak was the Canberra Hospital emergency department's second busiest day in history.