14 sick: Laksa food poisoning near Darwin

Eoin Blackwell of the Huffington Post reports that Northern Territorians looking for a spicy meal this week received a different kind of kick, with 14 people struck down by food poisoning traced to a laksa vendor.

this-is-a-laksa-restaurantThe NT Department of Health on Wednesday issued a warning about eating laksa purchased at two recent Mindil Beach Markets following a cluster of food poisoning in the Darwin area.

The source of the outbreak has been identified and the stall shut down for rest of the market season.

“We are warning the public not to consume any laksa which was purchased at Mindil Beach markets last Thursday or Sunday evenings,” Acting head of the Centre for Disease Control, Dr Peter Markey, said in a statement.

“Any laksa which was purchased from Mindil Beach on those nights and is still in your fridge or freezer should be disposed of immediately.”

83 sickened: Long list of food safety failures identified at Adelaide InterContinental, source of Salmonella outbreak

Katrina Stokes of The Advertiser reports that documents released under the freedom of information act highlighted numerous potential problems with the Intercontinental’s cooking practices, which left 83 people ill with salmonella poisoning after eating at the Riverside restaurant on Sunday, July 31. These include the known safety risk of using the same whisk in both cooked and raw eggs.

scrambled-eggs_An Adelaide city council report, obtained by The Advertiser from Duncan Basheer Hannon, confirms the common link between the affected individuals was the consumption of scrambled eggs. Test results identified Salmonella Typhimurium.

An investigation led by the council in early august concluded a long list of “issues” with cooking processes at the hotel.

They included:

A whisk used throughout the (scrambled egg) cooking process from a raw egg mix to a cooked mix.

Scrambled eggs were continually topped up and not fully replaced between the hours of 6.30am and 9.15am.

Serving spoons were replaced only when deemed necessary, posing a potential risk for cross-contamination.

The stick blender used to mix raw eggs was inadequately sanitised.

The nightshift chef responsible for preparing the raw-egg mix did not adequately understand correct cleaning and sanitising processes.

Scrambled egg reheat temperatures were not recorded on July 31 and there was no thermometer to record temperatures because it was “lost three months ago.”

A plastic container storing raw egg slurry had a damaged lid and rough internal surfaces, which were identified as difficult to clean and sanitise.

Intercontinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said the report was a “hypothesis.”

Mr McCandless said the hotel had produced a score of “100 per cent” in a recent external audit of food safety procedures.

Audits often mean little.

That’s the same McCandless who in early Augest said it was ‘absolutely safe’ to eat at the hotel.

The hotel’s $37 full breakfast buffet at the Riverside restaurant includes scrambled eggs.


Norovirus GII.4 a new strain

A norovirus recombinant GII.P4_NewOrleans_2009/GII.4_Sydney_2012 was first detected in Victoria, Australia, in August 2015 at low frequency, and then re-emerged in June 2016, having undergone genetic changes.

norovirus-qmraAnalysis of 14 years’ surveillance data from Victoria suggests a typical delay of two to seven months between first detection of a new variant and occurrence of a subsequent epidemic linked to that variant. We consider that the current recombinant strain has the potential to become a pandemic variant.

A norovirus intervariant GII.4 recombinant in Victoria, Australia, June 2016: The next epidemic variant?

Euro Surveill. 2016;21(39):pii=30353. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2016.21.39.30353

L Bruggink, M Catton, J Marshall


Mettwursts and pepperoni made by Australian smallgoods firm recalled

Brad Crouch of The Advertiser reports that mettwurst and pepperoni manufactured by Barossa Valley smallgoods firm Linke’s Central Meats is being recalled amid potential contamination fears.

mettwurst-and-pepperoniFollowing food safety checks by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions

South Australia (PIRSA), three types of mettwursts and one pepperoni from the Nuriootpa-based Linke’s Central Meats have been recalled and SA Health is advising people not to consume them.

SA Health has not received any reports of illness associated with these smallgoods but PIRSA is now investigating as routine food safety checks have been unable to verify the safety of the firm’s manufacturing processes for these mettwurst and pepperoni products.

Linke’s Central Meats can be found at South Australian Foodlands, the Loxton IGA and independent smallgoods stores.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) will be issuing a nationwide recall for the product and further information about the recall can be found on the FSANZ website.

BS credentials (journos, ask her a food safety question) Australian resort cited for food service violations

Christopher Walsh of Northern Territory News reports former CLP candidate Carolyn Reynolds has been cited on numerous occasions by the Department of Health for serious food service violations at her Lake Bennett Resort including staff not washing their hands, serving questionable food and keeping an “unsanitary” kitchen.

carolyn-reynoldsEnvironmental Health inspection documents obtained by the NT News show Ms Reynolds was written up in early June for a number of breaches of the Food Act, including not having proper potable water on premises and improper hygiene of employees. A follow-up review of the premises known as “Eagle Nest” restaurant showed serious breaches continued at the resort as late as June 23.

“Observation of staff — no handwashing in between duties,” the follow-up report states. “No soap in soap dispenser.

“Defrosting of foods — to be defrosted in coolroom, at time of inspection chicken breasts were defrosting in sink … not safe.”

The inspection also found expired food was stored in the same place as food she was serving customers. She was lectured then about “best before” and “use by” dates.

Department of Health officials confirmed Ms Reynolds was written-up for violations of the Food Act after “numerous complaints” but that no action was taken and that they “continue to work with the proprietor”.

“Environmental Health officers have visited the premises on a number of occasions, as recent as August and served food improvement notices to address issues identified,” a Health Department spokeswoman said. “The proprietor has taken appropriate follow up action.”

But photos taken last week, seen by the NT News, show unsanitary kitchen conditions remain, including dead cockroaches on shelves, unclean cooking areas, out of date cheeses and mouldy foodstuffs in coolers.

A former employee told the NT News Ms Reynolds would routinely serve old and expired food to customers — as late as last week. The employee also said she personally witnessed “Carolyn preparing food without washing her hands, without wiping down benches and using unclean knives quickly wiped on a dirty tea towel”.

Ms Reynolds denied all the allegations, saying she sacked kitchen staff recently “because some people hadn’t been doing things while I was doing the election”.

She added she is a “certified microbiologist” and knows about food safety. The Australian Society for Microbiology said yesterday they had no record of Ms Reynolds as a member.

“I fully understand all aspects of safe food, unfortunately, we in society probably throw away a lot more food than we should,” Ms Reynolds said. She added that claims she served children expired meat were “rubbish.”

“In no way on earth would I risk my reputation both as a chartered biologist and a business owner and as a person who loves children …” she said. “I would not risk harming children.”

Ms Reynolds, who ran for the seat of Goyder, said she was in “desperate” need of a good chef and that she may be forced to bring cooks in from the UK soon.

And they know what about food safety?


Imitation as flattery: Raw and risky is theme of Aussie food safety week

My line is raw is risky.

duhI’ve used it in at least 20 barfblog.com posts over the last five years, and hundreds of times over the last 25 years.

The Australian Food Safety Information Council has announced that the campaign for Food Safety Week to be held from 6 to 12 November 2016, was announced today as ‘Raw and risky’ foods.

Council Chair, Rachelle Williams, said we have seen major food poisoning outbreaks in recent years linked to risky raw foods such as unpasteurized milk, raw eggs, bean/seed sprouts, frozen berries and lettuce.


I’m an Australian citizen. I’ve been here for five years, if you folks need help (not that help recognizes artificial boundaries, although the Australian Internet does suck).

Whole genome sequencing to determine food sources of Salmonella

Salmonella Typhimurium (STM) is an important cause of foodborne outbreaks worldwide. Subtyping of STM remains critical to outbreak investigation, yet current techniques (e.g. multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis, MLVA) may provide insufficient discrimination. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) offers potentially greater discriminatory power to support infectious disease surveillance.


We performed WGS on 62 STM isolates of a single, endemic MLVA type associated with two epidemiologically independent, foodborne outbreaks along with sporadic cases in New South Wales, Australia, during 2014. Genomes of case and environmental isolates were sequenced using HiSeq (Illumina) and the genetic distance between them was assessed by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis. SNP analysis was compared to the epidemiological context.


The WGS analysis supported epidemiological evidence and genomes of within-outbreak isolates were nearly identical. Sporadic cases differed from outbreak cases by a small number of SNPs, although their close relationship to outbreak cases may represent an unidentified common food source that may warrant further public health follow up. Previously unrecognised mini-clusters were detected.


WGS of STM can discriminate foodborne community outbreaks within a single endemic MLVA clone. Our findings support the translation of WGS into public health laboratory surveillance of salmonellosis.

Whole genome sequencing of Salmonella Typhimurium illuminates distinct outbreaks caused by an endemic multi-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis type in Australia, 2014

BMC Microbiology, Published 15 September 2016, DOI: 10.1186/s12866-016-0831-3


Australian citizenship

It’s a trifecta of citizenships for me and Sorenne – Canadian, American and now Australian — and a deux-fecta for Amy as we attended our citizenship ceremony on Saturday morning.

citizenship-sep-16We didn’t even know it was Australian Citizenship Day (a U.S. thing too, which is ironical because the three of us are also Americans), but there were 492 of us in a community centre — with another 500 of supporting friends and family, although we decided to keep ours a personal affair — who were welcomed to the Australian family.

Special thanks to Amy and Sorenne, and many others, who have stuck with me while I adjust to the next phase of our life.

We’ll be celebrating tomorrow, in sub-tropical Brisbane, by spending the day at the arena, playing and coaching ice hockey.

And many thanks for all the kind messages we received in response to our citizenships.

We are quite fortunate, and grateful.


(before and after pics; are we different? that’s a softball question lobbed up there for your amusement)


‘MasterChef-itis’ leading to Australian restaurant staff shortages (and dumb food safety)

Young Australians are attracted to the “rock star” chef lifestyle depicted in reality cooking shows, but don’t want to put in the hard graft to get there, Good Food Guide editor Myffy Rigby says.

rockstar-chefRigby has just released the latest annual Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and said while the food industry was going strong, many restaurants were still having a tough time finding staff.

A Deloitte Access Economics report last year found a current gap of 38,000 staff across the tourism and hospitality sector, a shortage predicted to increase to 123,000 by 2020.

The report predicted demand would be strongest for chefs and restaurant managers.

However, Rigby said young people in particular just weren’t prepared for the years of physical toil it required to make it to the top.

“I think there’s a little bit of MasterChef-itis, I’m going to call it.”

Meanwhile, the Guide announces 11 café trends they’re glad are going away.

Here’s another: No more raw eggs in mayo and aioli.

But that’s a food safety thing and can’t compete with food porn.

Until people get sick.

Uber lawyers for Uber food?

I never liked Ikea.

The stuff looks great in the showroom but is a pain to assemble and never quite looks the same.

ikea-is-testing-diy-food-at-one-of-their-stores-allen-wrench-not-included_1IKEA is opening a “Do-It-Yourself Restaurant”, in which diners will be the chefs. Anyone attending IKEA’s ‘Dining Club’ will be able to cook a meal for up to 19 pals under the supervision of a head chef.

According to an Ikea statement, “diners will orchestrate an intimate foodie experience in a homely kitchen environment to mimic an actual dinner party, but one where diners can host many more guests than usual.”

No mention of liability.

I don’t want a do-it-yourselfer who only knows about food safety from cooking shows – fail – preparing meals for anyone.

We’re gearing up to host Canadian Thanksgiving for a few dozen people at a park so the kids can run around and the parents can chill. I cook the bird. I’ll transport it safely and I’ll serve it safely. Who knows what other microorganisms the others will bring.

Danielle Bowling of Hospitality Magazine writes that Australia has welcomed a new food delivery service, FoodByUs, where home cooks – not chefs – are the ones preparing meals.

After receiving a $2 million investment, the concept launched in late August and is the brainchild of Ben Lipschitz, Menulog co-founder Gary Munitz and Tim Chandler, ex-Menulog lead developer.

foodbyus_2-jpgFoodByUs allows consumers to order meals or snacks prepared by home cooks, and either pick it up from their house, or have it delivered for an additional $5.

Lipschitz said consumers need not be concerned about the fact that the meals aren’t prepared in a commercial kitchen.

“Food safety is taken very seriously at FoodByUs. There’s absolutely nothing illegal about selling food that’s made from your home. It’s very clearly regulated by councils and at times, state government. So we make sure that the cooks are compliant and we help them in understanding those processes,” he told Hospitality.

Pinto defense: we meet all government standards. Flashing red light warning.

Depending on the food being prepared, local councils may or may not inspect the cook’s kitchen, Lipschitz said, and FoodByUs – which has recruited 80-odd cooks, including ex-chefs and MasterChef contestants – doesn’t require food to be prepared in its test kitchen before making it available to consumers.

Ex-chefs and MasterChef contestants know shit about food safety in Australia (see any of the post entitled, Australia still has an egg problem).

“There’s no need to watch them prepare it, and in fact the requirement in terms of their premises always falls back on the council, so from our perspective there would be no point having them prepare it in our kitchen.

“The application process simply involves the cook bringing their food into a tasting centre and allowing us to do a quality and taste test. At that point we also take identification so there’s accountability and then they’re able to sell food on the network. The third thing we do is that every single buyer must review their purchase; they actually can’t continue using the service or app until they’ve reviewed their purchase. That means that we’ve got live, up-to-date feedback,” he said.

Maybe they have those groovy bacteria-sensing goggles.

From the advert:


Not Applicable

Job description

Cook, bake and create family meals in your area – flexible hours, great income

Earn over $500 / week, reaching thousands of buyers

Create Your Own Products, Schedule & Pricing

Free to Join, No Contracts


Are you a quality cook looking for additional income? Turn your kitchen (home or commercial) into dollars by selling food to a huge community of hungry local buyers looking for quality meals to feed their families. FoodByUs (www.foodbyus.com.au) is actively looking for passionate cooks to make authentic food. Aussie favourites, food from back home and food specially crafted for different dietary requirements are all welcome. Our part-time food makers earn over $500 / week and it’s free to join.

FoodByUs.com.au allows cooks to sell quality food online. No one who sells food on our site is a restaurant or big producer – rather we enable passionate cooks who make food from home or a commercial kitchen to independently sell their own food! You can make anything from delicious lunches and dinners through to sauces, cakes, cookies, pies or even empanadas if you like. Create your own products, your own cooking schedule and your own prices. We have appeared on national media like The Today Show, Channel 10, news.com.au, Grazia and more – we’re well known and ready to get you customers.

Not a mention of food safety.

Lawyers, sharpen your pencils.