Egg stamping introduced in Australia today

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, is reminding food retailers and consumers that from today, eggs produced in NSW must be stamped with a unique identifying mark to allow them to be traced back to the farm of origin.

ei_auMs Hodgkinson said this protection is part of a new national standard for eggs that will help reduce the impact of a food poisoning outbreak through improved traceability.

“I commend the egg industry, which has widely met this requirement and come on board well before today’s deadline,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“Producers see the value in not only protecting their customers; they also recognise the benefit of improved traceability to the industry.

“Egg stamping will mean that the source of an outbreak will be more easily traced and contained.”

Ms Hodgkinson said while eggs are a healthy and nutritious food, like all food there is an element of risk.

“Eggs are a leading source of Salmonella – between 2010 and 2014 in NSW there were 40 food poisoning outbreaks associated with eggs, affected more than 700 people, with many requiring hospitalisation,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“This is part of the role the NSW Food Authority plays to ensure food safety along each step of the food chain, from paddock to plate.”

Ms Hodgkinson said in order to reduce the impact upon smaller operators, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has provided free stamps to small businesses producing less than 1000 eggs a day.

Australian Bonsoy toxic soy milk victims on track for share of $25m payout; thought to be record-setting settlement

Hundreds of Australians allegedly poisoned by toxic soy milk are set to share in a $25 million settlement, in what is believed to be the country’s biggest ever payout concerning food safety.

Bonsoy toxic soy milkAbout 500 people alleged they suffered health problems caused by dangerously high iodine levels contained in Bonsoy between 2004 and 2009.

It was alleged Bonsoy was reformulated in August 2003 and pure kombu (seaweed) was replaced with kombu powder, which had the effect of increasing the level of iodine.

It was alleged one glass of milk contained 50 times the recommended daily intake of iodine.

Maurice Blackburn principal Jacob Varghese said it caused problems with the thyroid gland which regulates hormones that control metabolism.

“Ranging from lethargy and anxiety from one end of the scale, to very severe episodes that would involve hospitalisation,” he said.

“In some cases people had to have their thyroids removed.

“In a couple of cases women say that they had miscarriages as a result of the excessive iodine.”

The Australian distributor and brand owner, Spiral Foods, and Japanese companies Muso and Marusan Ai-Co agreed to the settlement without admitting liability.

It was lodged in the Supreme Court today for approval, with victims expected to begin receiving payouts within six months.

Mr Varghese said it was a warning to all food producers.

“We understand it’ll be the biggest settlement of any food safety class action in Australia,” he said.

“That’s quite important I think, in sending a message to food producers that the class action system is available to consumers to assert their rights if something does go wrong in the production process.”

Australian veterinarians cracking under pressure of overwork, poor pay and reduced numbers

Damien Solley knows first hand that mental health problems are intertwined with working in the veterinarian industry.

cattle_vetDr Solley has revealed two colleagues in the ACT and several veterinarians interstate, have attempted to take their own lives in recent years. 

He believes a chronic shortage of veterinarians in Canberra is a contributing factor, coupled with compassion fatigue, long hours and stress.

After months of being unable to employ sufficient veterinarians to cope with the workload at the Animal Emergency Centre Canberra, Dr Solley had little choice but to join forces with the Animal Referral Hospital brand to help alleviate the pressure on himself and his colleagues.

“Suicide rates in our industry are pretty high,” he said.

“They’re overworked, do long hours and standardized vet wages against inflation haven’t changed in 25 years.

“The average wage is dropping through the floor.”

Dr Solley said veterinarians were often picked up by the public service, due to better wages and conditions, and he feels it might be nearly time to move on to another profession after 15 years.

He said his wife, Amanda, also a vet, has asked him to leave the industry multiple times.

Raw eggs part of Australian food snobbery, not safety

Better Homes and Gardens on Australian TV Channel 7, is typical food porn laced with bad food safety advice.

During an episode on Oct. 24, 2014, Melbourne chef, restaurateur and food writer Karen Martini, someone who has been cooking professionally for more than 20 years, pushed the raw egg dressing agenda.

Sorry Australia – you still have an egg problem.

The New South Wales Food Authority has its own advice on raw eggs (see below and judge for yourself).

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at


Australian importer fined $25K for not testing imported ham

An importer has been fined $25,000 for failing to test 2241 kg Parma ham imported from Italy in 2011.

parma.hamPaqualino Licastro, owner of Perth import company Topas Pty Ltd, was fined $3000 while the company was fined $22,000.

After breaching its import permit, the company then failed to act on a directive from the Department of Agriculture to move the ham to a cold-store facility. The department ordered that the ham be held pending sampling and testing for Staphylococcus, Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella before it could be sold or distributed.

Had the imported ham introduced foot-and-mouth disease into Australia, it could potentially cost more than $50 billion over 10 years, the department estimates.

Food safety loses; Australian sausage sizzle laws wound back for community and non-profit groups raising funds

A sausage sizzle is a sausage with all the crap cooked out of it, served on a piece of white bread, sometimes with onions.

sausageNo idea why they can’t use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, or whole grain rolls, but it’s a different country.

Changes to ACT law will see fund-raising activities by community and non-profit groups exempted from onerous food safety regulations and a new category created for large events with a higher health risks for consumers.

Laws introduced in September 2013 sparked a community backlash, including over requirements that organisations holding more than five food sales each year appoint a trained food safety officer to prevent hygiene problems and food poisoning.

Organisers of sausage sizzles and other food sales in Canberra said expensive training and compliance threatened their viability.

Microorganisms don’t care a lot about politics.

Parents should care a lot about microorganisms.

Who doesn’t buy canned beets from a gas station?

It was somewhere around 2000 when Chapman accompanied me on a two-week whirlwind tour of Australia and New Zealand, speaking on a variety of topics, sampling kangaroo, and initially staying at a bed and breakfast in East Gippsland on a large winery that the owner, Owen, and his wife, moved to after the heart attack in the city.

beetroot.slices.recall.oct.14We thought Owen might have another at the dinner table.

I’d been invited by an ex-pat Canadian and had a chat with about 50 local farmers in the town pub.

But this is about beetroot.

There are some universal truths of travel, and one is that nothing beats an Egg McMuffin at 5 a.m. upon arrival in Melbourne after 30 hours on the move.

We probably had three each.

But I noticed the lunch menu and the inclusion of beetroot on the Big Macs.

What was a beetroot? The part of the beet that grows in the ground that North American’s call beets.

HJ Heinz Company Australia Limited has recalled Golden Circle Beetroot Slices from Coles, Woolworths, IGA, convenience stores and some petrol stations nationally due to the potential for microbial growth. Food products with microbial growth may cause illness if consumed. Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice. The product can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

That’s the only info available, but I’ve wanted to write for so long about beetroot.

Italian restaurant in Australia fined almost 12K

La Casa Italian Restaurant in Goulburn, NSW, was fined $11,780 for a series of infractions in 2013, including,

La_Casa_Restaurant 19(1) – fail to maintain the subject food premises to a standard of cleanliness – unclean floors in food preparation, storeroom and cool room – accumulation of grease, oil and food matter on 20 June 2013.

  1. Clause 19(2) – fail to maintain all fixtures, fittings and equipment to a standard of cleanliness – unclean cooking equipment, accumulation of grease and food matter on 20 June 2013.
  2. Section 106C(1) of the Food Act 2003 – the defendant failed to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor for the premises on 20 June 2013.
  3. Section 64 of the Food Act 2013 – the defendant contravened or failed to comply with a prohibition order on 20 June 2013.
  4. Section 64 of the Food Act 2013 – the defendant contravened or failed to comply with a prohibition order on 21 June 2013.
  5. Section 64 of the Food Act 2013 –the defendant contravened or failed to comply with a prohibition order on 22 June 2013.
  6. Section 64 of the Food Act 2013 – the defendant contravened or failed to comply with a prohibition order on 23 June 2013.

‘Cruise from hell’ Noro hits Australian cruise ship passengers

Passengers aboard a cruise ship bound for Fremantle say more than 100 people were struck down by a particularly violent bout of gastroenteritis.

The Sea Princess, a 15-deck ship operated by Princess Cruises, left Fremantle for Singapore on August 18 and is due back on Saturday.

vomit cruiseIt missed several stops because of a mechanical issue but passengers have been compensated for the changes.

But the norovirus outbreak on the ship led one passenger to call it “the cruise from hell”.

Another passenger, Burswood real estate agent Jim Edwards, 56, became ill about a week into the cruise and said it was the worst bout of gastroenteritis he had ever had.

He said at least 200 of the ship’s 2000 passengers had contracted the bug – double Princess Cruises’ estimate of 100.

“I couldn’t believe how strong it was,” he said.

“I’m only in my 50s but it took everything out of me and that’s why I was worried about the older people. It was knocking them down like flies.”

A Princess Cruises spokesman said more stringent sanitation procedures were implemented after the first few complaints.

Stick it in: Australian warning about Hepatitis E cases linked with pork liver

NSW Health is urging members of the public to thoroughly cook pork products, particularly pork livers, after three recent notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW in people who have not travelled outside Australia.

barfblog.Stick It InNSW Health – in collaboration with the NSW Food Authority and the Department of Primary Industries – is investigating the cases which were recorded over the past few days.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, the Director of Health Protection with NSW Health, said three individuals have likely contracted the illness after consuming either pork liver or pork liver sausages that may not have been properly cooked at home.

“Hepatitis E virus has previously been identified in Australian pig herds but until recently there has been no evidence that humans have acquired the virus from pork products in Australia,” Dr McAnulty said.

“Hepatitis E is common in developing countries where there is poor sanitation and little access to clean drinking water. Although infections have been linked to the consumption of pork products in other developed countries, this has not been seen in Australia before.

“In 2010 there were 14 notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW, in 2011 there were 21 notifications and in 2012 there were 10 notifications – all of which were thought to have been acquired overseas.

“Last year there were 19 notifications of the virus across the State and for the first time included a small number which were acquired locally.

“So far this year there have been 27 notifications, many without a history of overseas travel but with a history of eating pork particularly pork liver during the time they were likely exposed to the virus.”

pork.liverDr Lisa Szabo, Chief Scientist NSW Food Authority, said any raw food product has an element of food safety risk unless it is correctly handled and prepared.

“Undercooking pork livers and poor handling of them can be dangerous,” Dr Szabo said.

“Cooking livers all the way through will reduce the risk of contracting Hepatitis E virus or other organisms.”

Potentially harmful viruses and bacteria that may be associated with pork livers are all destroyed by thorough cooking and proper handling.

Pork livers need to be cooked all the way through to kill any organisms that may be present – lightly searing the surface is not enough.

Cook to 75°C at the centre of the thickest part for at least two minutes as measured using a digital probe meat thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. Allow livers to rest for at least three minutes before consuming.

It is also important to handle pork livers in a way to avoid cross-contamination.”

To avoid cross-contamination (where particles from raw food come into contact with ready-to-eat foods), it is very important to:

  • wash your hands in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly before preparing food and after touching raw meat;
  • make sure juices from raw meat do not come into contact with other foods
  • thoroughly clean all utensils, equipment and surfaces after preparing raw meat and before contact with other foods;
  • if possible use a separate cutting board and knife specifically for raw meat;
  • store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so juices can’t drip onto other foods; and
  • keep uncooked raw meat away from other ready-to-eat foods that will not be cooked.