Potjie puts fam­ily in hospi­tal

Cook­ing com­pe­ti­tion turns bad as rev­ellers throw up af­ter eat­ing pud­ding made from raw egg whites

The Independent on Saturday - - METRO - ARTHI GOPI and VA­LEN­CIA GOVINDASAMY

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.

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