Relish was most likely cause of food poisoning outbreak

A three-month investigation into a gastro outbreak at the MCG on Anzac Day has found the “most likely” cause was a relish.

A rabbit, chicken and pork terrine was originally suspected as the cause of the outbreak but Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton today said the relish that the entree was served with was the more likely cause.

The relish was made from quince, fig jam and barberries.

“The conclusion is that the relish is likely to blame. I know that there was a lot of talk about the terrine initially and in fact a lot of people ate the terrine as well as the relish so it was very hard to separate those,” Dr Sutton said.

“But in the course of interviewing over 100 people, it’s been identified that the relish is almost certainly the cause of this outbreak.”

Most likely, one of the ingredients carried a toxin that was not killed by boiling water used to make the relish.

That batch of barberries was examined, though no issue with them was found, and they were later destroyed as a precaution.

It was most likely a toxin to blame – as opposed to a virus or bacteria, which could cause salmonella – given guests had such a quick reaction. Some people fell ill within half an hour.

Dr Sutton said the event organisers had been “terrific” in cooperating with the investigation and the case was a warning that food contamination could happen in any context.

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