Food Standards Australia new Zealand is the government agency responsible for developing the Food Standards Code in Australia and New Zealand. This is done through work allocated in applications from applicants, including businesses and industry organisations, and proposals from within FSANZ or from the state and territory governments or from the Ministerial Council.
The applications and proposals are placed onto a Work Plan.
The following is from the FSANZ website detailing how this Work Plan is set up and managed
This plan has two parts:
PART 1 – Applications received and proposals prepared from 1 October 2007 onwards
PART 2 – Applications received and proposals prepared before 1 October 2007
If you have any questions about items on the Work Plan please contact the Standards Management Officer:
Ph: +61 2 6271 2280 email: email@example.com.
Applications or proposals are placed on the plan in the order they are received and are generally worked on in that order. Sometimes projects that are lower on the Work Plan are completed before projects that have a higher listing. This Documents can happen for a number of reasons, for example differences in complexity, availability of specialist expertise, withdrawal of applications or delays in completion such as requests for further information.
Under the FSANZ Act, applicants can choose to pay fees to bring forward the start of the assessment of their application. The anticipated start date of an unpaid application or proposal cannot be displaced by work on paid applications.
The following is a notice of a recall, as supplied by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and is included here with permission.
Shelby’s Healthy Hedonism/Rousche Group Pty Ltd is conducting a recall of Shelby’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. The product has been available for sale at Woolworths and Woolworths Metro stores nationally.
Date markings Best Before 28 FEB 21
Problem The recall is due to the presence of undeclared allergens (hazelnut and cashew).
Food safety hazard
Any consumers who have a tree nut (hazelnut and cashew) allergy or intolerance may have a reaction if the product is consumed.
Country of origin Australia
What to do
Consumers who have a tree nut (hazelnut and cashew) allergy or intolerance should not consume this product and return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.
For further information please contact:
Shelby’s Healthy Hedonism/Rousche Group Pty Ltd 1800 126 626 www.shelbyshh.com
There are changes happening in our food industry, and probably more to come, due to this viral outbreak
Food safety is about stopping stuff getting in the food and stopping what is already in it from growing – in other words contamination / cross – contamination controls and temperature control.
Bacteria is one of the main reasons we need food safety. These bacteria are so small that we need microscopes to see them and they can kill, depending upon the person, the product, the process and the pathogen itself.
One of the main things we do in food businesses is stopping bacteria and the other micro-organisms from getting into the food or onto food contact surfaces – this is about contamination and cross-contamination.
Two of the most important controls to prevent contamination and cross-contamination are handwashing and cleaning.
These should be standard practice within all food business and by all food handlers, as we work to prevent food poisoning. We should not only know how and when to wash our hands properly but be doing it regularly. It must be just routine.
It should be no surprise to anyone that handwashing and cleaning are also vital controls for preventing infection in and between humans. In hospitals we see the handwashing sinks and the antibacterial solutions and the many signs reminding staff and the public to use them. They are not just there to look good.
It is not just in food business and hospitals where handwashing should have been happening. It should be something we all do as part of our daily lives.
It is now being publicised everywhere as one of the most important things we can and should all be doing to slow the sprtead of this virus. But it should have been standard practice for us all already.
Even simple soap is essential as it reacts with the fat on the outside of the virus and effectively destroys it. Just rinsing your hands under water, regardless of it’s temperature, is just not enough. Remember that soap which is antibacterial may not kill this virus but is still necessary in food businesses.
There will be changes happening in our society as a result of this COVID-19 outbreak and some of those are going to be frightening. We are going to lose people close to us, see people not working as food business either shut down or go slow and the massive impact that is going to have on our economy and the country as a whole, there will be a need to self isolate and hopefully discover how to live like that again, and there will be a need to work together to get through this.
There will most likely be long term changes as well and we will just have to see what happens. As long as we learn from it and put what is needed in place to protect against it, and other viral or bacterial outbreaks – and they will happen again, in the future.
There is a quote often used “this too will pass”, but the one thing that absolutely will not change is that we should always wash our hands often and properly, whether in a food business or not.
So if you want to comment on the current proposal about changes to the Food Standards Code you have until Friday 20 March.
Although there are several specific changes being proposed, there are two in particular which will have significant impacts on food businesses across the country.
The position of the Food Safety Supervisor is only required in some states currently and as such an important role within a food business, one of the changes to the Code will make this a position required across the country. Under what conditions it will be required and the training, and especially the recertification, are what needs to be determined. Currently different states / territories require the role for different business types and the recertification also differs.
This change to a nationally required position in food businesses will on it’s own do much in bringing our food law back to being what was planned when the Food Standards Code was first agreed to by all jurisdictions a national set of food laws.
During the time since 2000, various states / territories have added their own requirements, including the Food Safety Supervisor, which has once again made it difficult for food businesses, especially those with multiple sites across the country.
This nationally required Food Safety Supervisor role should really have already been added into the Code as a requirement, so this is a much required change.
The Code already requires that all food handlers must have the food safety skills and knowledge to do their job, however it does not specifically state that food safety training is required.
One of the other proposed changes to the Code is the requirement for food safety training. This will be significant in terms of increasing skills and knowledge. Although it is important to note that rightly the change does not require that the food business must have that training done externally, it must be allowed to be done internally as long as that training meets the requirements of ensuring the necessary knowledge and skills.
If you agree or want to make any suggestions to this Proposal about these and the other Food Safety Management Tools, have a look at the Proposal page to find the submission details.
The Proposal page on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website can be found at this link –https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/proposals/Pages/P1053.aspx
The Proposal can be found at this link –
The following is from the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website – www.foodstandards.gov.au It is included here with permission.
Food recall statistics (between 1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 2019)
Between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2019, FSANZ coordinated 707 recalls. The average number of recalls per year for the last 10 years has risen to 71 (previously 67). See Figure 1 below for the number of recalls coordinated each year.
The table below shows the number of recalls by year and recall classification over the last 10 years.
Table 1: Number of recalls coordinated by FSANZ, by year and classification, between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2019.
For the last 10 years, most recalls have been due to undeclared allergens (283 recalls or 40% of all recalls during this period), and microbial contamination (181 recalls or 26% of all recalls during this period). Recalls due to undeclared allergens continue to increase however ‘microbial’ and ‘other’ recalls are also increasing. Foreign matter recalls are decreasing.
In 2016, FSANZ introduced additional post recall report questions to determine the root cause of undeclared allergen recalls. For more information on the root cause, problem detection and corrective actions of undeclared allergen recalls, please visit our dedicated undeclared allergen annual statistics page.
During the last 10 years, undeclared milk has been the most common allergen related recall, accounting for 30% of all allergen related recalls (unchanged since 2018). Multiple allergens is the second most common type of allergen-related recall, accounting for 18% in this category. Fourteen percent of recalls contained peanut as an undeclared allergen.
During the last 10 years, the most common food type to be recalled due to undeclared allergens is mixed and/or processed food, accounting for 30% of all undeclared allergen recalls. Mixed and or/processed foods include snack foods, custard powders and frozen meals. Confectionery was the second (14%) and breads and bakery products the third (12%) most common type of food recalled due to undeclared allergens.
Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and E. coli are the three microorganisms most commonly associated with microbial food recalls in Australia, as shown in Figure 5 above.
There was an increase in Salmonella related recalls in 2019 due to multiple recalls for Salmonella Enteritidis. Recalls for Listeria decreased (74 to 66 recalls over the 10 year period).
Meat, dairy and mixed and/or processed foods are the main food groups recalled due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. This is due to the importance the food industry and government place on Listeria management in these sectors and the extensive testing done of food products to monitor this.
A wide range of foods are recalled due to Salmonella spp. contamination. Eggs and fruits, vegetables and herbs were the most commonly recalled categories. ‘Fruits, vegetables and herbs’ recalled due to Salmonella were mainly lettuce, sprouts, rockmelon, fresh parsley and dried herbs.
Dairy products are more commonly recalled due to concerns with process hygiene, indicated through E. coli testing, than other categories of food. Other products commonly recalled for E. coli include fresh sprouts, salads and mixed and/or processed foods.
Between 2010 and 2019, there were 101 recalls due to foreign matter. The most common types of foreign matter found in food were metal (40%), plastic (29%) and glass (21%).
Recalls due to biotoxins occur periodically, with the numbers of recalls over the past 10 years ranging between one and 15 per year. In 2015, 14 recalls were due to shellfish contaminated with Paralytic Shellfish Toxin. The total number of recalls due to biotoxins between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2019 was 41 recalls (see Table 1).
Paralytic shellfish toxin (found in oysters and mussels) accounts for 63% of foods recalled. The next most common biotoxin is hydrocyanic acid (naturally occurring cyanide found in tapioca chips and apricot kernels), accounting for 17% of all biotoxin recalls.
Chemical and other contaminants
Recalls due to chemical and other contaminants are less common. The total number of recalls due to chemical and other contaminants between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2019 was 20 recalls (see Table 1).
Food categories associated with food recalls
The food categories have been developed by FSANZ to aid reporting requirements and data collection. The food type most commonly associated with a recall is ‘Mixed and/or Processed Food’. This is likely due to the wide range of foods that are categorised under this heading, including most long-life packaged food and manufactured items that contain multiple ingredients. ‘Breads and bakery products’ is the second largest food type associated with recalls. It includes breads, biscuits, cakes and pastries.
The following is the latest media release from the Food Safety Information Council and is included here with permission.
Wild mushrooms are springing up around Australia with the cooler weather and after recent heavy rains, so today the Food Safety Information Council warned people to be extremely careful around wild mushrooms because of the deadly deathcap mushroom poisoning risk.
Cathy Moir, Council Chair, said that foraging for wild food is becoming a popular activity but gathering wild mushrooms can be a life-threatening risk.
‘The poison in one deathcap mushroom, if eaten, is enough to kill a healthy adult. In the past 16 years, four people have died after eating deathcap mushrooms found in the ACT. In 2012 two people died after eating the deadly mushrooms at a New Year’s Eve dinner party in Canberra, and in 2014 four people were seriously poisoned.
‘Deathcap mushrooms can appear any time of year but are more common during Autumn a week or two after good rains. They have been found in the Canberra region, in and around Melbourne, in northern Tasmania and in Adelaide. They are not native to Australia and are often found near oak trees growing in warm wet weather. The similar marbled deathcap mushrooms have also been recently found in WA, although they may not be as toxic. While no cases have been reported in NSW it is possible that they also grow there.
‘Deathcap mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from some other wild mushrooms so we recommend you play it safe and only eat mushrooms that you have purchased from the supermarket, greengrocer or other reputable source. People born overseas, especially in Asian countries, should be aware that these deadly mushrooms can look like edible mushrooms that they may have gathered in their home countries.
“The toxin in deathcap mushrooms is not destroyed by peeling, cooking or drying. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps and often don’t appear until 10 to 16 hours after eating. These symptoms may ease for 2 to 3 days before a terminal phase of 3 to 4 days begins. Without early, effective medical intervention people may go into a coma and die after 2 or 3 weeks of liver and kidney failure.
‘While rare, most of the deaths from mushroom poisoning in Australia result from deathcap mushrooms. However there are other wild mushrooms in Australia that, while not fatal, can make you ill with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. These include the yellow stainer which resembles a field mushroom is the most commonly ingested poisonous mushroom in Victoria. Australian Poisons Information Centres received almost 900 calls about possible wild mushroom poisoning over a recent 12 month period, approximately a third of which were referred to hospital or medical treatment.
‘Many reported cases of wild mushroom poisoning are in children under five years of age. As well as never cooking or eating wild mushrooms, remember that small children have a natural inclination to put things in their mouths so keep an eye on them when outdoors at this time of year. Parents, schools and childcare workers should regularly check outdoor areas and gardens for mushrooms and remove them to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning. This will also protect your pets.
‘If you suspect you may have eaten a deathcap mushroom don’t wait for any symptoms to occur but go to a hospital emergency department taking a sample of the mushroom cap with you if you can. You can also contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 (24 hours a day 7 days a week),’ Ms Moir concluded.
If you have concerns about possible wild mushroom poisoning contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26
With a population of around 26 million in Australia, foodborne illness is a significant health issue with around 4.1 million cases each year. The other important statistics related to food borne illness are the 32000 people being hospitalised and the 120 deaths.
These figures are frightening but are low when compared to many countries around the world. This is because Australia is known for having strong food safety laws for the food industry and community groups handling food.
However, whether a country has laws which require good food safety and quality or not, it all comes down to those in the food businesses to do what is required.
It is true that the most important asset any business has is it’s staff, as they can make or break that business.
The requirement in Australia is that the food handler (includes staff and volunteers) must have the required food safety skills and knowledge to do the specific task they are doing.
Food safety training is only the first of the ways that these businesses can help food handlers do the right thing.
Other methods to ensure this skill and knowledge include; regular updates in meetings, reading external information, helping review and update procedures and processes, and posters around the site.
Each of the state and territory health departments and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) have good information, including food business related food safety posters, available to be downloaded and used by businesses or community groups. Some local councils also have their own useful tools.
The Food Safety information Council Ltd is focussed on informing the consumer about food safety and has posters and other useful material available to download. These are a great resource to use in conjunction with the materials from the government sites.
Another useful source of worthwhile food industry related posters is Pro-Visual Publishing. Each year this business works with FSANZ and other suitable organisations to produce useful posters for various parts of the food industry.
It also produces posters for other industries or organisation or topics.
The following are links to the 20-21 Pro-Visual posters. They are also available digitally with interactivity.
https://www.provisual.com.au/food.html – food manufacturing
https://www.provisual.com.au/clubs.html – hospitality clubs
https://www.provisual.com.au/restaurant–catering.html – hotels, restaurants, cafes
Food poisoning can be caused by a variety of micro-organisms from many sources. The following are some tips from the Food Safety Information Council to make sure that you prevent food poisoning whilst being environmentally aware. The following is included here with permission from the Food Safety Information Council and more helpful information in preventing food poisoning can be found at https://foodsafety.asn.au
Saving water is important but so is washing your hands. Washing fruit and vegetables under running water removes loose soil and helps to remove many bacteria and viruses. If you wash fruit and vegetables that are not going to be cooked in a bowl to save water this can just create a microbiological soup that may re-contaminate the food or your hands depending on the types and amounts washed. Alternatively, you can catch running water used for washing in a bowl or bucket and then put it on the garden where it will not contact other ready to eat fruits, vegetables and herbs. Read labels of pre-cut or peeled fruits and vegetables. If they have already been washed before packaging and they are within their use by date then washing again is not necessary.
Don’t be tempted to save electricity by making your fridge warmer. It must run at 5°C or below to make sure bacteria don’t grow.
It is great to grow your own food as it tastes good, it is fresh and it helps our children understand where food comes from. You can still get food poisoning or contamination from your own produce but this can be avoided with bit of careful planning.
Remember not to put ‘grey’ water from the house, such as the washing machine water, on to fruit, vegetables or herbs growing in the garden. Don’t store grey water as microbes will grow in it and don’t use water from the washing up or dishwasher as it has too much fat and other solids which can be bad for plant growth.
Don’t locate your garden near any rubbish piles or bins that may contain chemicals that could leak into the garden or attract vermin. I Carefully choose the garden site for hazards, for example, if you have an older building avoid using soil that could have been contaminated by scrapings of lead paint many years ago.
Make sure the compost you buy is treated and if you make it yourself ensure it is well composted; this not only kills any weed seeds but also helps kill food poisoning bacteria. Prevent easy access by vermin and pests., like mice and rats, which can spread disease. Never use any type of manure on food plants that hasn’t been thoroughly composted as it will be contaminated with bacteria some of which can make you sick.
Take precautions to protect your vegetable garden from entry of domestic and wild pests. Watch for evidence of invasions and discard damaged crops.
Minimise the use of garden chemicals and make sure you stick to the instructions for use. Use exactly the amount recommended on the label and don’t spray other areas of the garden in windy conditions in case the spray drifts onto fruit and vegetables. Some chemicals will have withholding periods before you harvest any fruit or vegetables that have been sprayed so that there are not residues in the food when consumed.
Use separate, leak-proof, easily washable bags for meat/poultry/seafood and for fruit and vegetables – retailers can still provide small plastic bags for these higher risk products which are recyclable at major supermarkets.
When you are purchasing your reusable bags make sure you get a cooler bag to keep your refrigerated and frozen food at a safe temperature on the way home, you may need to add ice bricks on warm days.
Choose a clean trolley or basket for your shopping. Never put fresh fruit and vegetables that won’t be peeled or cooked before eating directly into the trolley, put them in a clean bag.
Plan to do your food shopping last and take it straight home so perishable food doesn’t warm to temperatures in the danger zone where bacteria can grow (5° to 60°C). Don’t leave your shopping in a hot car. When home, pack chilled and frozen products into your refrigerator or freezer immediately.
It’s best not to store your reusable shopping bags in your car where they can get hot or can come into contact with pets or dirty items such as sporting equipment and shoes. If you do keep them in the car zip them into a cooler bag to keep them clean.
Reusable food and drink containers such a keep cups are becoming popular. Make sure your containers are clean, washing them in soapy hot water, rinsing and drying thoroughly. Make sure the containers are transported closed so they don’t get recontaminated and take any perishable food home straight away in a cooler bag (with ice brick if a long distance) It is also up to the shop/ cafe if they allow this to be done eg if their scales can be set for different containers.
The world is paying a lot of attention to viruses right now, with over 87000 people across the globe showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Is this a pandemic and is it something to be worried about?
A pandemic is called when a disease goes worldwide, so with nearly 3000 cases now in countries other than China, we are probably not far off COVID-19 being declared a pandemic.
It is already a pandemic in terms of the economies of many countries with loss of millions of dollars in education and tourism in particular.
In a interview on a television show lately a politician said something very simple about the main way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it was that if we can contain it, we can delay it and give health providers time to work on stopping it – whether helping those with it to heal and in the development of a vaccine.
So keeping those who have symptoms or possibly have exposure isolated, we are hopefully containing it.
The other measure being used to help stop it spreading is correct handwashing.
We all know it is the most important control to prevent food poisoning. For those in the health industry, hand washing is the primary method for preventing cross infection between patients.
This COVID-19 outbreak is highlighting just how important handwashing is in preventing the spread of contagious and easily transferred viruses and other micro-organisms.
It is just not acceptable to use the the bathroom and not wash your hands afterwards or to not wash hands regularly and this outbreak is hopefully making people aware that they individually have at least some control of this situation.
I have a friend who has told me that she would rather drink bleach than eat coriander. That is a pretty serious thing to say. She is not alone in despising the taste of coriander.
February 24 each year is International Coriander Hatred Day.
Just how many foods have a whole day internationally dedicated to hating them?
So what is this all about?
My friend describes the taste as being like soap and it totally dominates and ruins anything it is in.
There is a specific gene in humans, OR6A2, which makes coriander (and Cilantro as it is also known) taste like soap.
So my friend and the rest of 10 percent of the population who just cannot eat coriander.
This is fine if it is easy to see in a ingredient list if it is in a food as they can stay away from that food, but it is becoming increasing difficult for these people to avoid this popular herb.
It is being used in many restaurants and cafes as a garnish or an ingredient in foods without being mentioned in the menu.
For these people coriander is no different to one of the recognised food allergens and needs to be managed as such. Although it does not cause anaphylaxis or other allergic reactions, it completely destroys the taste of any food for these people.
Just because 90 percent of the population can eat and enjoy coriander does not mean that it should be used everywhere without ensuring that there is some information about it’s presence so that it can be avoided.