All packaged food must include an allergen statement if that food contains any of the food allergens recognised in the Food Standards Code as either an ingredient or as what is called a processing aid. For all non-packaged food, there must be allergen information available for the purchaser. The essential requirement whether the food is packaged or not, is that the supplier must provide sufficient allergen information to enable the customer / consumer to make an informed decision on whether to purchase or eat the food or not.
The majority of allergic reactions from food occur from peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, sesame seeds, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Another was added to the list in 2017, Lupin.
A useful poster is also available. You can download a copy (PDF 418KB), or for a printed A2 version at http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/labelling/Documents/allergen-poster.pdf
Although wheat is the allergen in the list, it is not the only gluten containing material which must be declared. Any food containing wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt and hybrids (including triticale) must contain a gltuen declaration.
Those with Coeliac Disease have no cure, so to avoid the syptoms they must avoid eating gluten. So knowing that there is a gluten containing ingredient or other material in a food is essential to controlling this disease.
There are some exemptions to the allergen labelling requirements based on whether the foods have been processed so that they are suitable for Coeliacs and other people with specific food allergies. The details can be found at http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/foodallergies/Pages/Allergen-labelling-exemptions-.aspx
The majority of product recalls in Australia over the last 10 tears have been due to undeclared allergens, which are costly both to the bottom line and to the reputation of those compnaies involved.
It is essential to ensure that the required allergen labelling is correct for all food businesses. The following is a useful link to assist – http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/labelling/Pages/Allergen-labelling-.aspx
If anyone suspects that a food has been incorrectly labelled or undeclared, the first point of contact is the local council or health department
Food Standards Australia New Zealand has just released the statistics for the Recalls for 2018.
There were 100 recalls for that year, the average of the ten years including 2018 was 67, so there was a significant increase.
Of those 46 were from undeclared allergens, 20 from microbial contamination, 15 from foreign matter and 6 due to incorrect labelling.
Over the last 10 years, undeclared allergens made up 39 percent of all recalls and since 2013 they have been the leading cause of food recalls.
Of the undeclared allergens recalls in 2018, 30 percent were from milk, 18 percent from peanuts, 16 percent had multiple allergens and eight percent were linked to tree nuts. 34 percent of the undeclared allergen recalls were from processed foods, 15 percent from confectionery, and 12 percent from baked goods.
There has been only one recall due to tampering in the last 10 years, the strawberry tampering in 2018.
In 2018, Listeria, salmonella and E.coli were the major causes for the microbial contamination recalls.
Metal was the major cause of the foreign matter recalls in 2018, followed by plastic and glass.
There have been quite a few stories on the news over the last year about meat patties made in the lab and not coming from any animal.
It is controversial and many may think twice about eating any products made from it, but it will be a part of our future, as it can be potentially be produced in vast quantities economically with a significantly reduced environmental impact than meat from animals and poultry.
The issue at the moment is about what controls, and particularly food safety controls, are in place, or will be, to manage this new form of food.
The first question which needs to be anaswered is simple – is it actually meat?
This is where the law must rapidly adjust to include this material and the increasing the definition of what is meat is part of that change.
The material is made from the cells of meat animals so it does fit into the general definition of meat. The cellsare collected and then cultured in the lab and meat is produced as a result It can be red meat or poultry, the process is the same.
One of the problems in the USA has been in detrmining whether the meat is under the jurisdiction of either the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
It has been formally agreed that both of theses departments will share the regulatory responsibility for this new material. The agreement covers all aspects from development to commercial production and lays out which department has oversight and responsibility at which stage.
The FDA will be responsible for the collection, banks, growth and differentiation of the cells, and then the USDA will take over oversight for the production of human food products, including labelling.
Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, said; “We recognise that our stakeholders want clarity on how we will move forward with a regulatory regime to ensure the safety and proper labelling of these cell-cultured human food products while continuing to encourage innovation. “Collaboration between USDA and FDA will allow us to draw upon the unique expertise of each agency in addressing the many important technical and regulatory considerations that can arise with the development of animal cell-cultured food products for human consumption.”
There seems to be an increase of companies offering boxes of all the ingredients for chosen meals delivered to your home. Well at least that’s what it appears, with all the ads on TV.
The idea is that you go to a website or app and choose a selection of meals you would like and enter the number of serves you need and after you pay the fee, a box with all the exact ingredients and amounts appear on your doorstep All you need to do then is follow the provided recipes and serve “home cooked” and quick delicious meals.
The ads looks good on the TV and provide lots of good reasons why people should take up this food preparation option.
It saves all the hassle of having to go to the supermarket and makes the whole preparing of meals quicker and much more convenient.
The problem is that although it does make the whole meal preparation more convenient, it may well be more expensive than the traditional method involving the shopping step.
So if there are more companies getting into this market, it would be logical to assume that the market is increasing , right?
In a recent pilot study by The NPD Group, it seems that 75 percent of Australians are eating a home cooked meal on any given day and that in four week period 90 percent of us are making and eating a meal made from store bought ingredients.
So where does this leave the meal kit / plan companies?
Ciara Clancy, Executive Director, Foodservice at The NPD Group said; “Today, convenience, health and the search for quality, local ingredients are all entwined, and many options have launched in the market to suit the time-strapped consumer. However, whilst our data reveals that millennials are driving the meal kit and meal plan trend, their impact is still low when compared to consumers choosing to prepare meals from start to finish using fresh ingredients purchased in store.”
It would seem that it is one market segment, the Milennials, which is driving this increase in meal kit / plan companies but for whatever reason the market is not yet popular generally. As soon as one of the meal kit / plan companies can work out what those reasons are and can address them, this is obviously a market which will see a rapid growth in sales and usage.
This is a market well worth keeping an eye on.
You are what you eat. More and more research is showing that this old saying should be something we all follow.
A study done at Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California seems to be once again reinforcing this saying.
The researchers reviewed results from over 240000 telephone surveys done over 11 years from 2005. The California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) has much information about the respondents, including; socio-demographics, health status and health behaviours.
The results indicate that regardless of gender, education, age, marital status and income level, it seems that diet has a significant impact on mental health.the greater the consumption of unhealthy food the higher the likelihood of either moderate (MPD) or severe psychological distress (SPD) symptoms.
The study was published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition shows that 13.2% of Californian adults suffer from MPD and 3.7% with SPD, and both groups had higher consumption of fast food, soda and French fries, with a lower intake of fruit and vegetables.
Associate Professor Jim E Banta, the studt’s lead author, said; “This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavioural medicine. Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health, because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health. More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction.”
The results from this study are yet another indication that we are what we eat and that eating foods which are good for you can only improve and maintain good health. There is another similar saying in the IT world – “rubbish in rubbish out” and this study and others like it show that this applies to humans as well.
Once again, like during 2018, we have what looks to be a significant Listeria outbreak in Australia.In 2018 seven people died during an outbreak which was linked to rockmelons.
This time at least five private hospitals, aged care centres and Meals on Wheels operations across Victoria have been instructed by Victoria Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to dispose of food from a Victorian company.
The catering company located in Dandenong has been ordered by the Acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton, to cease operations in an “abundance of caution” whilst an investigation is underway
Six samples taken from the factory have come back as positive for Listeria, but it is still to be determined where the actual source is.
One woman in her 80s has died after eating food which appears to have been supplied by the company and potentially thousands of people may be affected as the company supplies 10 private hospitals and 7000 Meals for Meals on Wheels.
According to the DHHS Health Advisory dated 22 February 2019, all food from the company dated between 13 January and 21 February are not to be consumed.
Listeria usually presents with flu like symptoms and possible diarrohea for most people but for the elderly, immune compromised and pregnant women the effects can include; septicemia, meningitis and pneumonia.It can take at least two months for the symptoms to show, depending upon the individual and the bacterial load in the food.
Listeria is a bacteria which likes cold temperatures and is easily killed with cooking.
For more information on Listeria, the typical foods involved and what can be done to prevent it, go to http://foodsafety.asn.au/advice-on-listeria/
The number of cases from the current food poisoning outbreak in South Australia seems to be increasing, with 21 people now hospitalised.
These people appear to have Salmonella and at this stage it looks like they have all consumed Vietnamese rolls from the same chain of bakeries in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
They are all showing the same symptoms of fever, vomitting, cramps and headaches and have shown these within six to 72 hours of eating the suspected Vietnamese rolls.
The three bakeries are all now closed but at least one of them was investigated previously in 2015.
South Australia Health are still waiting for the results of tests done in the bakeries on food and environment.
The suspected foods are raw egg butter, pate and BBQ pork ingredients.
The Food Standards Code is law in the food industry in Australia through the Food Acts in each state and territory.
The Code has four parts;
- The General Standards
- The Food Standards
- The Food Safety Standards
- The Primary Production Standards
The General Standards includes the introduction to the Code and the requirements for;
- Allergen labelling
- The Maximum Residual Limits
- Microbiological Standards
The Food Standards includes the definitions and additive and other requirements for specific foods.
The Food Safety Standards includes all the requirements for food safety for the food industry.
The Primary Production Standards covers the food safety requirements of all foods and processes in primary production. There are generally standards for each type of industry; eg; dairy, meat. Seafood, and egg.
The General and Food Standards also apply to all food businesses in New Zealand. The other two Standards do not as New Zealand already had it’s own Standards in operation.
The Standards are being constantly reviewed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand to ensure they always meet world’s best practice and protect the health of all Australians and New Zealanders at all times.
This process can be done internally through reviews of standards or it can be done through applications from businesses and others for additions or changes to be made to the Code.
There is also a need to constantly keep adding new inclusions into the Standards because of changing processes and foods. As an example, with new methods being developed to pasteurise foods, which do not utilise heat, there will be a need in the not too distant future for required microbiological requirements for these processes to be added into the specific standards.
The Code does not function on it’s own, it is made law by the Food Act in each state and territory and is the key document used in developing Food Safety and HACCP programs across the country.
The Food Standards Code is also an very important reference for the development of food related Training Packages used to train and assess people in the food businesses.
The latest of these training packages being developed is focussing on a growing part of the food industry, the artisans and gourmet food businesses like the breweries, cheesemakers, confectioners and condiment makers.
If you are in one of these type of businesses and would like to be involved in making sure that the training for this very specialised industry not only meets the requirements of the Food Standards Code but addresses the very real issues of these very small businesses, go to this link to get more information.
According to new research in Roy Morgan’s ‘Supermarket & Fresh Food Currency Report-September 2018’ there has been an increase in the hold supermarkets have of the fresh food market since last year’s report. Supermarkets hold 71.4 percent, and increase of 2.4 percent from the previous report, whilst other fresh food retailers have gone down by the same percentage to 28.4 percaet of the market.
Woolworths and Aldi are the biggest movers since the last report, increasing to 27.4 and 9.8 percent respectively.This puts Aldi in the third spot behind Woolworths and Coles, and a long way ahead of the next supermarket IGA on 6 percent.
The total fresh food (fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, deli and bread) market is now worth $33.8 billion in retail value.
It is the local butcher who has dropped the most in the 2018 report, to a market size of 7 percent from 8.1 percent in the previous report.Fruit and vegetable shops now hold more than IGA at 6.7 percent.
The report was prepared after more than 50000 face to face interviews with consumers which included 12000 grocery buyer detailed questionnaires.
The report can be found at http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7864-fresh-food-market-201901310541
Campylobacter jejuni is not a bacteria which is commonly known and yet it causes much of the food poisoning both in Australia and across the world.
It is often called just “Campy” to make it easier for scientists and other alike.
It grows best at 37 to 42 C and takes two to five days for symptoms to show for most people.
It causes diarrhoea, fever and cramps and has the largest impact on the high risk groups of the elderly, young and the immune compromised.
If a person has had a bout of food poisoning from Campy, they can still be infectious for up to three weeks after the symptoms have gone.
In rare situations it can cause muscular paralysis though a condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. This condition usually resolves itself but facial tics and other minor paralysis can be permanent.
It is often associated with raw or undercooked poultry , but can also come from raw milk, contaminated water, pets and other people.
The controls needed to stop Campy are good handwashing, thorough cooking of meats, particularly poultry, and ensuring that raw foods and properly separated from cooked foods.
Although associated with these sources, the means of how Campy is transmitted is very complex and one of the hypothesis about how this happens is linked to house flies.
Researchers at he University of Guelph in Canada have been studying this means of transmission and found that house fly numbers seem to be increasing.
Their model shows that by 2080 the amount of human disease caused by campy will double from what it is now – and that is very scarey.