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.

‘It’s a mitigation measure’ Food safety amateur hour continues in Queensland with ‘dirty eggs’

With 250 teachers sick from a conference, and an additional 20 people sick in a separate outbreak around Brisbane – but apparently using the same egg supplier – people are now being told it’s possible dirty eggs may be the cause.

mountain_range_eggsThis isn’t CSI, with its groovy UV lights that make great television but lousy science.

This also isn’t rocket surgery: publicly release all surveillance data on raw eggs in Queensland (or Australia), publicly release the menu items at the Queensland Convention Center and the Grocer and Grind on the Gold Coast where two of their own chefs got sick, and tell chefs to stop using raw eggs in dishes they have to so expertly craft from scratch like aioli or mayonnaise.

This is nothing new and we have been documenting the problem for years. A table of Australian raw egg Salmonella outbreaks is available here (or here to download the spreadsheet).

Queensland Health yesterday revealed 1,895 cases of Salmonella had been detected since the start of the year, more than double previous levels, prompting an alert to businesses involved in food preparation and the wider community.

Safe Food Production Queensland general manager Phil Pond said Darling Downs Fresh Eggs had immediately issued the voluntary recall of the dirty eggs once notified.

Mr Pond said salmonella bacteria was carried in many animals, especially poultry and pigs, and any ingestion of fecal matter could be harmful to people.

But because the fecal matter could not be entirely eliminated, Queensland had adopted a mitigation strategy which included limiting the sale of any produce, including dirty eggs.

my.brain.hurts“Queensland has had a food safety scheme since 2005 with a salmonella mitigation strategy,” Mr Pond said.

“That’s what this is, a mitigation measure.

“Darling Downs Fresh Eggs has done everything possible to alert the public of the possible dirty eggs in the market place.”

Not quite.

Queensland Health’s Sophie Dwyer said an increase in raw egg consumption, poor food handling and hygiene standards, and consumption of cracked and dirty eggs had all contributed.

“One of the issues is that sometimes people think dirty eggs indicate they’re more healthy, or naturally produced,” Dwyer said.

“But if they are dirty it doesn’t mean they’re safer, they’re more hazardous.

“We are seeing a wider range of products being produced in the home and restaurants that include raw eggs. Products like aioli, mayonnaise, mousse and tiramisu use raw eggs and therefore don’t have a step that would kill any salmonella bacteria.”

Peter Collignon of the Austalian National University said salmonella cases were increasing each year, with more than 10,000 reported cases annually, adding, “The problem is that in Australia, we don’t take the same precautions as other countries do to keep salmonella rates down.”

The restaurant industry was a major source of contamination, he said, because it was impossible for consumers to tell which meals on a menu contained raw egg.

Food porn crazy in Australia: feed your baby formula from liver and beef broth

An Australian baby recipe book that advocates milk formula based on liver and bone broth has been put on indefinite hold after intervention by a consortium of health organizations.

PeteEvans_articleBut no worries for one of the authors of Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way, Pete Evans (right, exactly as shown), he’ll keep his food porn gig as a Channel 7 My Kitchen Rules judge.

The other authors are baby recipe blogger Charlotte Carr and naturopath Helen Padarin. None have medical qualifications.

“In my view, there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead,” Professor Heather Yeatman, president of the Public Health Association of Australia, has told The Weekly online.

Experts warn it contains more than ten times the safe maximum daily intake of vitamin A for babies and inadequate levels of other nutrients.

“That’s the really troubling thing: the infant is totally at the whim of their parents when it comes to feeding,” says Prof Yeatman. “If the wrong decision is made, they may be seriously affected.”

Paleo advocate Pete Evans has more than 780,000 Likes on his Facebook page, which includes many personal testimonials from fans. He describes his current national speaking tour as “spreading the medicine”.

In his foreword to the book, he implies that the Paleo diet may help prevent autism, birth defects, behavioural disorders, digestive disorders, rashes and asthma.

 

Australia still has an egg problem: And a food safety culture problem

It’s a simple question that journalists and beaurocrats in Queensland (that’s in Australia) seem unwilling to answer: were raw eggs used in any of the menu items that sickened 250 school principals, and now an additional 20 people on the Gold Coast?

Catch22Australians are into food porn – show us mere residents the recipes.

Darling Downs Fresh Eggs,a Queensland egg producer, has issued a voluntary recall of its caged and mountain range free eggs.

In a statement, the company said it issued the recall after being advised of a production issue with the eggs that had a Julian date of 036 up to and including 063.

“It was possible that dirty eggs may have been packed into some of these cartons and we are implementing a voluntary recall of these eggs,” the statement said.

Food safety amateur hour continues in Brisbane.

Those 250 school principals that got sick in Brisbane at a conference last week?

Nothing, no follow up.

Now, with at least 20 people sick linked to eggs at a Gold Coast restaurant in a separate outbreak, the most telling lines in a press conference earlier today were that the restaurant continued to sell food after their head chef was hospitalized with food poisoning.

Grocer and Grind manager Martin Kralovic said the cafe’s head chef, James Lennon, was rushed to hospital on Sunday morning after eating some of the store’s eggs.

The following day a second Grocer and Grind chef was rushed to hospital with food poisoning.

Despite the two contaminations, Mr Kralovic said the cafe continued to serve customers until Tuesday when Gold Coast City Council health authorities inspected the venue.

Health inspectors cleared the cafe but were unable to confirm whether the eggs were the cause of the contamination. The cafe had dumped its stock of eggs on Sunday, fearing they may have been linked to the illness.

Mr Lennon, who was bedridden for four days, said he felt like he was going to die.

“I started feeling ill at about midnight on Saturday. I immediately knew it was the eggs because it is all that I had really eaten that day.

“Also a week prior to that our egg supplier turned up and told us they had been shutdown due to the contamination (at the convention centre) in Brisbane.”

Duh.

The Gold Coast Bulletin became aware of the food poisoning outbreak after being contacted by the father of a woman who became ill on Saturday evening.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his adult daughter was admitted to Robina Hospital late on Saturday after eating eggs benedict at Grocer and Grind in the morning.

She ended up spending three days in hospital on a drip and yesterday was still very unwell and resting at home.

He said there were about 12 other patients in hospital with his daughter at the same time who were ill after eating at the cafe.

Mr Kralovic said the eggs came from the same farm which was involved in the recent contamination at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

It is understood the farm was forced to source eggs from another farm after the convention centre contamination.

The Bulletin contacted the second egg supplier but a staff member declined to comment.

Gold Coast Health spokesman yesterday said an outbreak of 20 people was classed as severe and the public health unit were investigating but could not confirm the cafe as suspected source for legal reasons related to the Food Act.

Catch-22.

20 sick in new Salmonella outbreak: Australia still has an egg problem

Amy figures we ate at this place last year.

Grocer and GrindAt least 20 people are believed to have been hospitalised after eating at Broadbeach cafe Grocer and Grind.

The venue’s head chef is reportedly among those admitted to hospital.

Some of those affected reported eating eggs benedict on Saturday morning and were admitted that evening with severe diarrhoea requiring several days in hospital.

Gold Coast Health has today confirmed the public health unit is investigating the possible source but at this stage have not publicly named the eatery involved.

But Grocer and Grind manager Martin Krolovic confirmed the cafe’s head chef had been hospitalised and had only just been discharged.

“The owners are on there way here to sort this out with out head chef who has only just got out of hospital,” he said.

“I don’t know any more than that.”

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