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 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

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.

Clear as mud: Australia hep A outbreak sparks labeling changes but isn’t food safety

Green and gold kangaroo labels will show consumers how much of their food contains local ingredients and whether it was made in Australia, but the changes have been criticised by a consumer advocate for not requiring the origin of non-local ingredients.

MadeInAus_729pxThe new labelling system, which is expected to make food slightly more expensive, followed demands for clearer information on the origin of food products following an outbreak of hepatitis A caused by frozen berries imported from China earlier this year. 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce unveiled the new food labels on Tuesday, saying some businesses would start using them on a voluntary basis before the end of the year.

“If a product has got the green and gold kangaroo triangle, it is made or processed in Australia,” Mr Abbott said. “If the product has the gold bar, the product is Australian.”

The gold bar will display the proportion of local ingredients used in the food product.

From next year, Australian manufacturers will be required to carry the labels, which, are the result of a four-month senate inquiry into country-of-origin food labelling laws. The review was called after 28 people were infected with hepatitis A from frozen berries imported from China in February.

Asked how the labels would help prevent similar future outbreaks, Mr Abbott was quick to distinguish the labels from food safety standards. “Different people might have different views about where you are most likely to be confident in the quality of your food. 

“But they are two separate issues. We are dealing with one. Obviously it is up to the various levels of government to deal with the other.”

Tom Godfrey, a spokesman for consumer group Choice, said manufacturers should make it clear where all their ingredients are sourced from “and take on board the option to list the main ingredients of their products”.

 

Still on every sandwich: Sprout safety in Australia

Seed sprouts have been implicated as vehicles for numerous foodborne outbreaks worldwide.

sprout.apple.aug.14Seed sprouts pose a unique food safety concern because of the ease of microbiological seed contamination, the inherent ability of the sprouting process to support microbial growth, and their consumption either raw or lightly cooked.

To examine seed sprout safety in the Australian state of Victoria, a survey was conducted to detect specific microbes in seed sprout samples and to investigate food handling practices relating to seed sprouts. A total of 298 seed sprout samples were collected from across 33 local council areas. Escherichia coli was detected in 14.8%, Listeria spp. in 12.3%, and Listeria monocytogenes in 1.3% of samples analyzed. Salmonella spp. were not detected in any of the samples.

A range of seed sprout handling practices were identified as potential food safety issues in some food businesses, including temperature control, washing practices, length of storage, and storage in proximity to unpackaged ready-to-eat potentially hazardous foods.

Microbiological Safety and Food Handling Practices of Seed Sprout Products in the Australian State of Victoria

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2015, pp. 1250-1419

Symes, Sally, Goldsmith, Paul, Haines, Heather

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2015/00000078/00000007/art00021

Sounds like hucksterism and Pinto defense: Chinese ‘mall’ for Australian food

Billionaire Richard Liu has further opened Australian food producers to the massive Chinese consumer market, launching an “Australia Mall” channel on China’s biggest online trading platform, JD.com.

Richard LiuThe 40-year-old Mr Liu, China’s 11th-richest man, was in Melbourne launching the new platform and announcing a deal with Treasury Wines to use the system, under which a2 milk is already sold.

“We believe it’s important to market the country first and then its product and we want to promote Australia as a very clean, very natural and very beautiful country,” he told The Australian.

“We also want to make Chinese people aware of how straight and stringent Australian regulations are in regards to food safety and security.”

Mr Liu said the platform would focus on food and cosmetics in Australia but also healthcare, sports, shoes, baby goods and others. A deal with Australia Post was also announced today.

JD, which is a $US46 billion company listed on the Nasdaq, has 100 million Chinese users and is the world’s third-biggest online trading platform, meaning there are big opportunities for local companies that team up with JD.