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. 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

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,

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.

34 sickened: Proposed new Australian food labelling laws released following Hepatitis A outbreak

Food packaging would be stamped with pie or triangle graphs illustrating how much of the product is locally grown under a proposed overhaul of labelling laws. two-month consultation study into food labelling regulations has found food can be ‘Made in Australia’ without any Australian ingredients. It also concluded consumers find current laws “confusing and irrelevant” and business considered the existing requirements “burdensome”.

The government initiated the overhaul of food labelling laws in the wake of the contaminated frozen berries scandal in February.

The Department of Industry and Science says the common ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ label is meaningless.  It wants to scrap a current accounting production test known as the Safe Harbour Defence, which allows a manufacturer to label their food as Australian made if half the “transformation” or processing has taken place in Australia.

Given the production test includes labour and transport it is often difficult to process a food in Australia made from imported ingredients below the 50 per cent “transformation” threshold, meaning the so-called protection is redundant.

“It appears burdensome for business, yet of little relevance for consumers,” the department’s paper says.

Under new labels being considered, a graphic would included for food partially made in Australia as well as text which would clearly explain what is done in Australia and the proportion of Australian ingredients.

There would be no graphic for imported foods but text would be required to state where the food was manufactured and the origin of ingredients.

Why I don’t get invited to dinner and Australia still has an egg problem

Amy went out for dinner last night with some uni colleagues. checked out the menu beforehand – as you do when living with a food safety type for 10 years – and I was encouraged by the 50C salmon and 65C eggs.

Unfortunately, this was the summer menu and it’s winter here.

And I noticed the aioli on the menu, and asked Amy, ask the server if it’s made with raw eggs.

Of course it was.

When those questions are asked in a restaurant, servers think you want to hear whatever is fashionable.

Ten years ago I was sitting in a B.C. restaurant with Chapman and a provincial health inspector, and ordered fish, and asked, is it farmed or wild?

He assured me it was wild.

I said I wanted farmed because that left a smaller ecological footprint.

He said, no one had ever asked for farmed, and eventually admitted that yeah, some of it was farmed.

So how are consumers supposed to know?

They don’t. It’s all faith-based.

I made dinner for Amy before she went out.

She didn’t eat the aioli.

While it’s nice that Dr Paul Armstrong, chairman of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, acknowledged the other day that, “We have an ongoing problem with salmonella infections linked with chickens, particularly eggs,” it doesn’t help diners who are served raw-egg aioli.

Australia has an egg problem.

Public health: It’s about resources

A shot rang out.

It was about 7:30 p.m. last night. I said to Amy that sounded like a gunshot, she said, nah, I grew up in Montana around guns, that wasn’t a gunshot.

revolver_webley_and_Scott_A_seriesIt was.

Ten minutes later we got an e-mail from the townhouse next door, saying a bullet had ripped through their walls.

We’ve lived beside these bogans for three years, but they’re getting worse.

The street was in lockdown, cops were negotiating with people inside the house, I was told to stay with Sorenne.

Talking to the two police officers this morning following up on the shooting – and this isn’t the U.S., they take such things seriously here – I said isn’t that house a drain on your resources. Don’t you have better things to do?


It’s the same with raw milk, anti-vaxxers and whatever else is out there: It’s a huge drain on public resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

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.