Australia: stolen cattle gallstones and upsetting sheep with foul language

Australia can be a weird place.

johnny_depp_71911A collection of cattle gallstones, which are used in Chinese herbal medicine at $20,000 per kilogram, began disappearing over the last six months from a slaughterhouse at Oakey, west of Toowoomba.

The Toowoomba Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad this week raided a property at Cranley and a 38-year-old man was charged.

He will appear in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court on June 23.

Acting detective senior sergeant Brendan Murphy said police had to act fast because the small gallstones are easy to dispose of.

South of Queensland in the state of New South Wales, animal activists reported shearers at a NSW property for abuse because they were upsetting the herd with abusive language.

While the case has been dropped, the issue came up at a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday with Nationals senator John Williams demanding to know if department officials had received any formal complaints – from the sheep themselves.

“Not yet senator,” policy official Fran Freeman said.

Uh-huh: Rules will be strict and strident for frozen berries imported into Australia after hep A outbreak

Australian bureaucrats apparently don’t know hepatitis A is only transmitted amongst humans – it does not go through animals.

FROZEN BERRIES RECALLBut to have the appearance of doing something, importers of frozen berries will have to prove their fruit comes from farms and factories with strict sanitation standards after 34 people were sickened with hep A in Australia this year.

The Federal Agriculture Department enacted new health regulations, with the threat of up to 10 years jail if importers do not comply.

The department will also begin testing berries for E. coli after the rash of food poisoning cases highlighted inadequate screening and lax product labelling rules.

Victoria’s Patties Foods recalled Nanna’s 1kg frozen mixed berries after people were diagnosed with hepatitis A after eating this brand, which was packed in China.

The source of the infection remains unknown but the only common element was all patients ate the same brand of berries. Tests on an unopened pack found traces of the virus.

Thirty companies import frozen berries from China.

The food safety watchdog says correctly handled berries do not pose a medium or high threat to health but the new rules require importers to follow good agricultural and hygienic practices throughout the supply chain.

These include no contact with fecal matter or animals, clean and sanitised equipment, the product stays frozen and clean water is used for growing and washing berries.

Before they can ship berries into Australia, importers will have to review suppliers and keep records of these assessments.

Five per cent of berry consignments will be tested for E.coli, which can be a sign of poor hygiene. Testing for hepatitis A can be difficult because levels of the virus in food may be too low to be detected.

Aussie live export cattle being killed with sledgehammer in Vietnam caught on camera, prompts calls for ban

The Australian live animal export market makes a lot of money, but cannot be condoned, since refrigeration has existed since the late 1800s.

cow.sledgehammer.vietnam.may.15According to Australian media, shocking footage has emerged of live export Australian cattle being bludgeoned to death with sledgehammers in Vietnam.

Government authorities have been investigating reports of the sickening slaughter method since March, but Animals Australia said yesterday it was the first time photographic evidence had been made public.

Video obtained by the animal welfare group shows handlers in a Vietnamese abattoir repeatedly striking beef cattle over the head with a sledgehammer to subdue and kill them.

The hidden camera vision was captured late last month in a facility in northern Vietnam.

Animals Australia spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said Vietnam was currently the second-largest export market for Australian cattle, with 178,000 animals exported there in 2014.

“The industry has called what is happening in Vietnam ‘growing pains’,” Ms Chalk said.

“Most people would disagree. It’s horrific and preventable suffering.”

Animals Australia, the organisation which earlier this year helped expose the cruel practice of live-baiting within the greyhound industry, said video showing the sledgehammer slaughters was “so shocking and distressing that a decision has been taken to not publicly release it at this time.”

Australian farmer prosecuted for supplying unpasteurised milk under cow share scheme

Mark Tyler of South Australia says the raw milk distributed from his 50 or so cows at his Willunga Hill property to shareholders who paid $30 plus a fortnightly boarding fee, then picked up their milk regularly from the farm, is safe.

colbert.raw.milkA judge didn’t agree.

The Tylers could face a fine of up to $50,000 for breaching food regulations.

Raw milk sales are illegal and the South Australian Government argued the couple’s “cow share” arrangement constituted a sale under the Food Act.

“We’ve got over 2,000 people drinking it every day, really no one’s having an issue,” said Tyler.

“There’s virtually no proven cases of raw milk causing illness in people.”

Nosestretcher.

There has been a push by legislators to crack down on raw milk sales across Australia since a three-year-old Victorian boy died last year.

Australian taxpayers and growers are led up a garden path

(I and others applied for this, but knew it was an inside job. Here is the take from Australian Food News)

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145The Fresh Produce Safety Centre (FPSC), which is an organisation established with government and industry support in 2013, has announced the winning tender bid for the conduct of a literature review of fresh produce safety research.

The announcement has produced some skepticism from commentators about the whole bureaucratic process involving the Fresh Produce Safety Centre’s role in improving the current Australian food safety regime for fresh produce.

The principal industry sector group supporting the establishment of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre has been the Produce Marketers Association Australia New Zealand (PMA A-NZ), which is the representative body of importers and international traders of fruit and vegetables.

The major supermarkets and food safety audit organisations already follow and monitor their own very strict food safety protocols at all points in the supply chain. Commentators are therefore asking why it ought be necessary for the FPSC to be ‘reinventing the wheel’.

Incidentally, the winning tender bid is a team consisting of TQA Australia Inc, RMCG, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research in New Zealand, in concert with the Food Safety Centre at the University of Tasmania. The project has the support of the NSW Food Authority, Pip Fruit New Zealand, Golden State Foods and Snap Fresh Foods, and Fresh Select.

In 2009-2010, a process had been initiated by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to incorporate food safety primary production and processing standards for horticultural produce into the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code). However, the PMA and some of the major produce importers opposed the inclusion in the Food Standards Code of a set of food safety standards for their industry sector. Ultimately, the Federal Government relented and the FSANZ process for developing a new mandatory food safety standard was aborted.

The reasons given at the time for the abandonment of the proposals included: the fact that the majority of horticulture product grown in Australia is already grown under a food safety scheme, and that a better understanding of those products that were not grown under a food safety scheme was required before further regulation should be considered.

FSANZ proposed a collaboration between the horticulture industry and government – with suggested measures such as “targeted guidance, codes of practice, education materials and training” and better through-chain traceability measures.

The PMA took the initiative to establish the concept of a ‘fresh produce safety centre’ with government and industry backing.

Some commentators are now consider the whole process a ‘waste of time and industry resources, and taxpayer funds’, especially for growers, supermarkets and other operators in the horticultural supply chain within Australia.

Market microbial food safety at retail and stop hucksterism: Brisbane campaign to buy local produce

It’s not a new superbug, it’s an outbreak of super stupidity.

A Brisbane TV station finally woke up to Australia’s egg problem, and titled their investigation (bottom), Scientists fear super strain of bacteria behind food poisoning outbreak.

Raw_eggThis refers to the numerous egg-related outbreaks in Queensland and throughout Australia, largely related to a chef snobbery that they have to make their own aioli or mayo using raw eggs.

A table of raw egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-12-15-2.pdf or http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-12-15.xlsx

And in response to the 32 Australians that have been stricken with Hepatitis A from imported frozen fruit, a new initiative is targeting Brisbane shoppers to support local farmers by buying local produce.

Every time some in Brisbane gets religion about buying local, I point out that’s much easier in a sub-tropical climate than, say, Canada.

The scheme involves 100 independent grocers and is backed by Brisbane’s Produce Markets. 

Greengrocer Joseph Guardala said the “hand picked” message was aimed at family shoppers.

He claims greengrocers have better fruit and vegetables than major supermarkets, because they specialize in it.

“They don’t want imported stuff, they want their local fruit to and veg to be locally grown here,” he said

He visits the Brisbane Markets every morning to source the produce for his store, Indooroopilly Fruit. 

“I’m hand picking everything, I’m tasting everything, I open boxes, I even pick through pallets every day, just to get my 24 grapes that I exactly want,” he said.

Here’s hoping you washed your hands properly before spreading Norovirus on all that fresh fruit and veg you touch.

Raw milk cheese food porn and BS

Chef Matt Carulei will be selling $400/kg King Saul cheese from the Adelaide Hills (that’s in Australia), teamed with a honey parsnip puree and seasonal mushroom shortbread at The Flour Factory restaurant in the city.

“Pasteurisation kills off many of the flavor characteristics which would normally be expressed in a well-made raw milk product,” Carulei said.

King Saul is a cow’s milk cheese and the first of its kind in Australia. It was previously sold only online direct to customers under a producer’s licence.

WA cheese importer Nick Bath says fear of pathogens was the stated reason for the bans.

“Historically, raw milk has been prohibited in this country for reasons of human health,” he King Saul cheese from the Adelaide Hillssaid. “But the cheese-eating French aren’t dropping like flies, which made our laws look increasingly out of touch.”

Except in 2007, two of France’s (and thus the world’s) top lait cru Camembert producers, Lactalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mère, announced they were forgoing the status of “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” and switching to cheese made exclusively with heat-treated micro-filtered milk (not quite pasteurized but still an affront to purists).

Lactilis’ spokesperson, Luc Morelon said that although they recognize the importance of Camembert traditions, they’re making the change “[b]ecause consumer safety is paramount, and we cannot guarantee it 100 per cent. We cannot accept the risk of seeing our historic brands disappearing because of an accident in production.” In response to his critics Morelon added, “I don’t want to risk sending any more children to hospital. It’s as simple as that.”

Do your homework.

Want to keep supermarket customers? Don’t sell moldy food

As traditional grocery stores continue to lose market share and wonks advise adding bars and a fishmonger, the New South Wales Food Authority (that’s in Australia) has a better tip: don’t sell out-of-date and moldy food.

ColesNewLogo9pinSeveral Coles, Woolworths and IGA stores make up the 1293 listings on the government’s online penalty register, which publishes the names of businesses that have breached food safety laws.

In the past year inspectors fined IGA supermarkets almost $10,000 for breaches spanning from Western Sydney to the Murray region.

The chain’s Nabiac store, in the Great Lakes area, was caught out selling potato salad, herb bread, yoghurt and pickled fish up to two weeks past their use by date, while an IGA store in Blacktown had “expired food exhibiting mould.’’

Inspectors found old smoked salmon at an IGA Liquor store in Wangi, in Lake Macquarie, while two outlets in Minchinbury were found to be selling expired products, including dips.

A company spokesman said responsibility for breaches was on the individual store owner. “However repeated breaches of food safety regulations will see the owner’s business de-bannered as an IGA store,’’ he said.

Woolworths was fined for trying to sell expired milk at its Caltex service stations in Blacktown and Kellyville Ridge, while its Bowral supermarket in Bowral was found to be selling food that was well past its use-by-date.

Coles.perth.raw.goats milkInspectors fined Woolworths’ Camden store for failing to maintain a “required standard of cleanliness.’’

Coles stores in Winmalee and Katoomba — in the Blue Mountains — copped penalties for failing to display “potentially hazardous food’’ under the correct temperature, control while the chain’s Gladesville store was listed for failing to take all necessary steps to prevent the likelihood of food being contaminated.

Despite the breaches, a Coles spokesman said staff: “work actively with regulators to ensure correct food handling and hygiene procedures are held to strict standards.”

Especially that raw goat’s milk.

Bureaucrats at work, more eggs recalled: Australia sucks at this recall-provision-of-information thing

My elderly parents arrived from Canada yesterday, and we took them out to dinner.

barfblog.Stick It InThe restaurant knows me, knows my concerns, and does not serve aioli (garlic and mayonnaise) on those occasions when I venture out because they make it with raw eggs.

Australia not only has an egg problem, it has a regulatory problem.

The company that packed those eggs involved in the Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 20 in the Gold Coast, and may be linked to 250 illnesses in Brisbane (but nobody’s talking about that) has expanded its list of recalled products because they’re dirty.

Safefood Queensland today decided to tweet, “Don’t serve raw egg foods that won’t be cooked to the elderly, small children, pregnant women & people with compromised immune systems.”

250 school principals generally don’t fall into those categories. A table of the shit fest of Australian raw egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-3-12-15-2.pdf. Why are consumers the critical control point in this?

raw.eggsLast week, the safefood group endorsed an infosheet from Queensland Health that said, “Make sure to cook chicken thoroughly so that there is no pink meat and the juices run clear.”

I can’t make this stuff up. Tax dollars at work.

Use pasteurized eggs. Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.