Food fraud consequences: 10-year-old died in Melbourne after drinking coconut milk as importer admits label charges

But why wasn’t the investigation and cause revealed earlier, to warn and hopefully prevent further cases. Maybe it has something to do with the legal system in Australia.

coconut.drinkMaybe it doesn’t.

A 10-year-old child died from an allergic reaction in Dec. 2013 after drinking a “natural” coconut drink imported by a Sydney firm.

The canned product from Taiwan, Greentime Natural Coconut Drink, is sold in most states and was recalled just over a month later following the tragedy. But it was never revealed that it was blamed for causing the fatal anaphylactic reaction in the child from Melbourne.

The NSW Food Authority said importer Narkena Pty Ltd, based in western Sydney, pleaded guilty in September to three labelling charges and will be sentenced later this month.

The authority said the company entered pleas of guilty to two charges that the drink was labelled in a way that falsely described the food and to one charge of selling food in a manner that contravened the Food Standards Code.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Coroner said a decision about whether there would be an inquest would be made after the other court hearings were concluded. Lawyers are understood to be pursuing a civil action against the importer.

Despite the tragedy occurring some 22 months ago, it was only in August that a suppression order was applied for in relation to the case.

The child, as a minor, cannot be named by The Sun-Herald.

The child is understood to have had an allergy to dairy products. The NSW Food Authority said at the time that the recall was because the milk content was not declared on the label.

Narkena Pty Ltd did not respond to a request for comment.

Five coconut drinks have been recalled in the last four weeks, all because they contained undeclared cow’s milk according to Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia.

Last month, The Sun-Herald reported Aiden Henderson, nine, who is allergic to dairy products, went into anaphylactic shock after drinking the flavoured drink Coco Joy. It is also imported by a Sydney firm and was recalled after the incident.

Maria Said, president of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia said she was dismayed that although the coconut drink the child consumed immediately before the anaphylaxis that took his life was found to contain cow’s milk, it had taken almost two years for other similar products to be investigated.

“Surely someone in the food science industry would have known the cow’s milk was used for a functional purpose in coconut drink and if that was the case, it would likely be in other coconut drinks,” she said.

“Another child’s near-death experience after drinking a different coconut drink in July 2015 prompted NSW Food Authority to test other coconut drink products, some of which have now also been recalled due to undeclared cow’s milk. The spate of coconut drink-related recalls continues as it should have from Jan 2014.”


It was the filthy mixer: 16 sickened with Salmonella at Australian hospital

It wasn’t the fish, it was a filthy food mixer that sickened 16 this month with Salmonella at Burnside Hospital in Adelaide.

mixer.salm.adelaide.sep.15Hospital officials sent written warnings to more than 1,600 people about possible exposure earlier this month.

South Australia Health’s director of food safety and nutrition, Fay Jenkins, said hospital staff were unable to clean the stab mixer food appliance properly, which had led to a build-up of food residue and bacteria.

She said the equipment had been “implicated as a source” of the contamination.

“Due to the way it was constructed, the mixer was unable to be dismantled, which meant thorough cleaning and sanitizing could not occur and harmful bacteria were able to survive within the appliance.”

More for the duh files: Jenkins told a press conference this morning that “this sort of thing should’ve been picked up.”

Jenkins told reporters public hospitals have a thorough audit system which ensures the cleanliness of food operations, and that private hospitals – such as Burnside – also had compulsory audits, but that they were not undertaken by SA Health.

Audits and inspections are never enough.

And if Wal-Mart stopped selling raw sprouts a few years ago because of the risk, why are they still served in hospitals and virtually everywhere else in Australia, the ones with audits and inspections?


$250K fine in Australia for fake ‘free range’ eggs

In addition to changing Prime Ministers every 12 months (bye-bye Tony dumb-dumb) it’s almost impossible to buy cage eggs, at least without enduring the stigmatizing stares of other shoppers.

darling.down.eggsBut are consumers getting what’s advertised?

Darling Downs Fresh Eggs must pay a $250,000 fine after the Federal Court ruled it had purposely mis-labelled its eggs as free range, in a case brought by the competition watchdog.

The court found that RL Adams Pty, the company behind the egg producer, engaged in misleading conduct and made misleading representations to consumers in labelling and promoting its eggs as `free range’ from December 2013 to October 2014.

The company admitted, in the course of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigation, that it had kept its hens confined to barns at all times, and kept doors shut so the chickens never had access to an outdoor range.

“It’s clearly misleading to claim your eggs are free range when the hens that laid the eggs didn’t roam freely outdoors,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

“People are willing to pay a premium for free range eggs which they believe meet ethical or welfare standards. Businesses should not be benefiting financially from misleading claims about farming practices,” he said.

The severity of the penalty was mitigated in part by Rl Adams’ co-operation with the ACCC investigation, said the court.

11 sick: Australian hospital patients warned of Salmonella from imported fish

Why does imported fish garner a headline in Australia? Because homegrown would never sicken anyone.

fish.headsA mother of two is among at least 11 Burnside Hospital patients in Adelaide struck down with salmonella caused by imported fish, and authorities are investigating a second source of the potentially deadly infection.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, said she “felt like death” and “like I was going to die”.

Testing confirmed she had contracted the infection from eating fish in the hospital.

She spent one night at Burnside after a routine shoulder operation but a few days later spent six days at Modbury Hospital with “uncontrolled bowels” and hooked up to an intravenous drip. on Friday revealed Burnside Hospital chief executive officer Heather Messenger sent letters to 1600 patients this week informing them of their “potential exposure” in the past six weeks.

Acting on advice from an external public relations firm, hospital officials made a statement after inquiries from The Advertiser.

“Our view is that patients should always hear about things that happen in the hospital from the hospital, not the media,” Ms Messenger said.

She confirmed patients had contracted salmonella from eating imported fish from Myanmar, supplied to the hospital by an SA company.

Ms Messenger said there was still an unknown source in some cases. It is believed the cause could be cross-contamination from eggs – a common cause of the infection.

Burnside Hospital has a maternity ward but Ms Messenger would not confirm whether babies were among the victims.

“(I’m) not really in a position to talk patients because of the privacy aspects of it … but yes, there have been patients of various ages affected by this,” she said.

sprout.salad.aust.aug.15“I am disappointed that, with our commitment to excellent standards of patient care and service, this has happened.”

Oh please. Every Australian hospital I’ve visited serves raw sprouts (left, from a hospital).

Australian audit being conducted into third party certifiers including halal and kosher organisations

The Islamic organisations paid to certify halal meat in Australia are being reviewed as part of an overall audit of food certifiers, which includes organic and kosher organisations.

halaldThe Senate hearing into food certification has been told that there are 22 different halal certifying organisations covering about 70 abattoirs which export to Islamic markets.

Greg Read, from the Federal Agriculture Department, told the hearing the latest review came on top of the regular six-monthly audit carried out on processing plants and a regular review of the Islamic organisations responsible for certification.

“(It is ) just to give us high levels of confidence that’s (the system is) accurate nationally, then the department will effectively do a higher level review over the top of all of those to ensure that we haven’t got any plants that are differing and thereby exposed to the international markets should there be a further review,” he said.

The inquiry, charged with looking at food labelling and third party certification, has attracted over 1,400 submissions, with many focussing on halal certification.

Opponents argue the certification fee is effectively a tax, while prior to the hearing a number of critics claimed the monies raised could be channelled to extremist organisations.

Paternalistic warning about E. coli in Australian goats feta cheese

As usual, Australian government types don’t tell how the contamination was discovered or if anyone is sick.

Cottage Cheese FarmCottage Cheese Farm Pty Ltd has recalled Cottage Cheese Farm Goats Fetta Cheese from Cottage Cheese Farm and Middle East Bakeries in Victoria, Australia, due to microbial (E. coli) contamination. Food products contaminated with E.coli may cause illness if consumed. Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice and should return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Sprouts recalled again

As Virginia sprout grower (not) Good Seed Inc., of Springfield, Va., announced its third recall because of Listeria monocytogenes, the Australian Food Safety Information Council issued a sprout summary, noting that in addition to overseas outbreaks, 125 were sickened with Salmonella in Western Australia in 205 and 15 in Victoria in 2006.

sprout.salad.aust.aug.15“Washing sprouts has been found to be not very effective as laboratory studies have shown that bacteria can be internalised in the sprouts, making it difficult wash off/sanitise, and bacteria can be protected in a biofilm on the sprout surface. People in the 4 vulnerable demographics (young children, people 70+, immune-compromised or pregnant) should not eat uncooked sprouts of any kind.

This is a picture of a salad served at an Australian institution full of immunocompromised people.

Guess they didn’t get the memo.

Good Seed in Virginia isn’t saying anything, although all three recalls came weeks after the fresh sprouts were packed and shipped. The most recent recall notice, dated Aug. 3, is for all sprouts Good Seed produced on or after June 22.

The Packer reports no illnesses have been linked to the sprouts, which were distributed to retailers in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.

However, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Agriculture said in May that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed some listeria infections among people in the distribution area match the genome type of the listeria monocytogenes confirmed on the Good Seed sprouts.

Australia still has an egg problem: Salmonella up, other foodborne illnesses falling

Despite more than four million Australians getting sick from contaminated food each year, the overall national rate of food poisoning is falling.

garlic_aioliExcept, that is, when it comes to Salmonella.

A glance at Victoria’s Department of Health figures for example, shows an increase of 65 per cent in Salmonella poisoning since 2012, where 2,500 people reported ill in the 12 months to August 2015.

Queensland has seen a doubling of Salmonella cases in the past 12 months.

According to Department of Health, “overall, despite more coverage, foodborne illness is declining, from 4.3 million cases a year in 2000 to 4.1 million cases in 2010.

“Our supply chains have become more complex, our meal solutions have become a lot more complex. It’s not just chops and three veg as it used to be.

“Shelf life is stretched to the limit.

“It’s across all food items, and Australian consumers can expect to fall ill from food contamination every four or five years on average due to contaminated food.”

It is thought that consumption of frozen berries in Australia is now 30 per cent of where it was when Hep A struck earlier this year.

“While salmonella bacteria are most commonly associated with livestock and chickens, they have also been responsible for food safety outbreaks associated with fresh produce,” says the new Food Safety Guideline.

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

Make disclosure mandatory: Brisbane issues 445 infringements to businesses for breaching food safety standards and collects more than 500K in fines

Toronto, Los Angeles and New York have all figured out how to make restaurant inspection disclosure mandatory.

restaurant_food_crap_garbage_10It’s voluntary in Australia.

The council has revealed its worst offenders are among Brisbane’s most popular eateries including Fortitude Valley’s Golden Palace Chinese Restaurant, Subway in Chermside Westfield and Ahmet’s Turkish Restaurant in South Bank.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the council had raked in more than $500,000 in fines from businesses breaching standards and had successfully prosecuted 27 cases.

Cr Quirk said in the past financial year it had cancelled food licences on 18 occasions and issued 48 immediate suspensions to businesses in breach of food safety standards as well as 620 improvement notices.

“Council also issued 445 fines to businesses during the year and finalised prosecution of 27 successful cases of Food Act 2006 breaches with fines totalling $579,700, for incidents,” he said.

Cr Quirk said its Eat Safe program, which was implemented in 2010, aimed to boost health and safety standards in licensed food businesses including both mobile food vendors to restaurants.

Recommend a thermometer? Australia says 6-2-2 a sizzling success in pork project

How hard is it to recommend a thermometer?

The study does not account for temperature variations of the grill or stove, so seemingly impossible to assess.

curtis.thermomet.pork.oct.24.14But, marketers be marketing.

Pork CRC and APL conducted a study (Pork CRC Project 3C-106) across three retail partners in metropolitan Adelaide to ‘test’ the 6-2-2 (i.e. 6 mins one side, 2 mins the other & 2 mins to rest) messaging for cooking pork steaks.

Pork CRC research has demonstrated experimentally in large studies that cooking temperature influences consumer perception of the eating quality of pork steaks, with over cooking markedly reducing eating quality. APL research in homes showed that 78% of bad eating experiences with pork were due to cooking failure and 53% of these were associated with the loin, which is the fresh pork cut most consumed by Australians.

The objective of the Pork CRC and APL study was to create awareness of the 6-2-2 cooking message to prevent cooking failure  It used different promotional activities, ranging from TV advertising through to retail labelling and the use of 6-2-2 stickers on retail packs.

barfblog.Stick It InThe bottom line was that the sale of pork steaks increased in all retail outlets. The increase in sales above what was expected (based on sales determined before the promotion and store history) ranged from 16% to 56%, depending on the promotional strategy used. Even better news was that the increase in sales of pork steaks was not at the expense of other pork cuts/products.

A major learning outcome from the project was that communicating the rewards associated with 6-2-2 is the best way to entrench the purchase of pork steak and avoid relying on a continuous advertising push.

The findings will form the basis of future advertising and promotional campaigns by APL, which will, hopefully, lead to further increases in demand for Australian pork.