New Zealand's food safety watchdog has linked the nationwide outbreak of salmonella typhimurium phage to flour produced under Goodman Fielder's Champion, Edmonds, Homelife and Pam's brands.

 

A sample taken from the home of one of the people affected has been confirmed positive, while a sample taken from a second case's home has been provisionally found positive, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority said.

 

"The evidence is not yet conclusive but the results of the investigation to date indicate that people with the infection (especially children) were more likely to have eaten uncooked flour for example in home-made play dough, raw cake and batter mixes," Dr Greg Simmons, chief advisor for the New Zealand Health Ministry's Population Health Directorate, said.

 

NZFSA said the manufacturer, Goodman Fielder, has "fully cooperated" and "acted responsibly". The company has implemented a voluntary trade withdrawal.

 

However, Geoff Allen, NZFSA director, emphasised that the source of the bacteria is not known, and investigations are continuing.

 

"Flour is a raw ingredient and intended to be consumed cooked. Although flour is not expected to be a sterile product, we support the company's precautionary decision to withdraw the product.

"The affected batches of these brands can be safely used to cook if proper care is taken. If people have used these brands in their baking - for biscuits, cakes, breads or other Christmas treats - they can be reassured that the cooking will have killed the bacteria and that these home baked foods are safe to eat," he said.