The Department of Agriculture is working to “make sure there isn’t a threat to public health” and identify the source of the salmonella outbreak which has been identified on eight poultry farms throughout Ireland over the last few days.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue advised the public to continue following “the usual advice which applies in relation to properly cooking poultry products,” as the investigation continues “to make sure food is safe”.
“We have very stringent measures in place. My Department and the veterinary team and indeed all of the food companies have very strong protections in place and that’s how we have actually identified this particular issue.
"By working with the flocks concerned … We’ve stepped out the management measures to make sure food is safe,” he said, speaking to journalists before the National Dialogue on Women in Agriculture this morning.
“We are carrying out further assessments all the time. The veterinary team are looking to get to the source of the issue and are taking all precautionary steps to make sure there isn’t a threat to public health and that food is safe.
"But it’s always important to remember the standard advice around cooking poultry.”
All flocks confirmed positive for salmonella have been restricted and are under Department controls, with the affected birds to be culled humanely and disposed of, according to the Department.
It has not yet clarified the number of birds affected by the outbreak or how the contamination may impact on supermarket food supply chains.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has urged flock owners to “remain vigilant”.
Its poultry chairman, Nigel Sweetnam, said: “The cases of salmonella in a small number of farms is devastating for the flock owners concerned.
“The affected flocks are restricted and there is no threat to human health.
“The authorities, including the Department of Agriculture and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, are working to deal with the situation as quickly and effectively as possible.”
An FSAI spokesperson said it is liaising with the Department of Agriculture in its investigation and to date, there are no human cases of illness linked to this investigation.
“This on-farm incident has arisen following the food recall of Western Brand undertaken last week,” the spokesperson added.
Last week, Western Brand, a chicken producer based in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, recalled expired batches of raw chicken products due to the detection of salmonella typhimurium.
In a message on the recall, the FSAI said: “These products were sold as fresh and are past their use-by date. However, the labels state they are suitable for home freezing. Recall notices will be displayed at point-of-sale.”
People infected with salmonella typically develop symptoms between 12 and 36 hours after infection, but it can range between six and 72 hours. The most common symptom is diarrhoea. Other symptoms may include fever, headache and abdominal cramps.