The following is a recent media release from the Food Safety Information Council about research they have done in the lead up to Australian Food Safety Week 2020. It is included here with permission.
The Food Safety Information Council today released Omnipoll national research for Global Handwashing Day, showing there has been no major increase in Australians washing their hands since this time last year.
As handwashing was a major component of the national campaign to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19, this lack of improvement was a considerable surprise, according to Lydia Buchtmann, the Council’s Communications Director.
‘This year the greatest improvement was a 4% increase in the number of people who said they always wash their hands after going to the toilet (up from 79% to 83%) but that still means almost 1 in 5 Australians don’t always adhere to this most basic of hygiene messages!’ said Ms Buchtmann.
‘The research indicated that more people are putting themselves at risk of foodpoisoning, as there was a 5% drop in the number of respondents (from 63% to 58%) always washing their hands before handling food.
‘Men were less likely than women to always wash hands after going to the toilet (80% of men versus 85% of women) and before touching food (53% of men versus 62% women).
‘This year Omnipoll also asked how often people washed their hands and used hand sanitiser on the previous day. While 1 in 5 people couldn’t recall how often, the others reported that they washed their hands an average of 7.5 times a day and sanitised them 3.9 times a day. There was also a strong correlation between people’s use of hand sanitiser and concerns about catching COVID-19.
‘While the Food Safety Information Council’s major concern is to reduce the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning each year, we recognise that good hand hygiene can also reduce your risk of COVID-19 and other viral infections. Health and handwashing go hand in hand, after all. A study by University College London recommends that people should wash their hands 6 to 10 times a day to reduce their risk of catching viral infections such as colds, influenza and COVID-19.
‘You can easily reach this recommended 6 to 10 times a day handwashing recommendation (and reduce your risk of food poisoning) by always washing your hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds and drying thoroughly (or using hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities aren’t available) on these occasions:
- before handling, preparing and eating food
- after touching raw meat, fish, shell eggs or poultry
- after using the toilet, attending to children’s (or others) toileting and changing nappies
- after blowing your nose
- after touching a pet
- after gardening
- after returning home
‘To remind Australia of the importance of good hand hygiene, the Food Safety Information Council has re-launched an education package today including a video and posters for adults and children that give 4 simple tips for hand washing correctly. The package can be downloaded from our website here and we encourage people to watch the video and to put up the posters at home, in their workplace, or at school,’ Ms Buchtmann concluded.
The Food Safety Information Council would like to thank their members Ecolab and Accord Australasia who made this research possible through charitable donations.
Jan Pacas, Managing Director at Ecolab comments, ‘As a manufacturer of soap, hand sanitisers, and the dispensers that hold them, Ecolab has long been a champion of hand hygiene across many industries and hand-washing is essential to food safety, as well as protection from a range of viruses, including COVID-19.’
A trusted partner at nearly three million commercial customer locations, Ecolab (ECL) is the global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services. With annual sales of $13 billion and more than 45,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions, data-driven insights and personalized service to advance food safety, maintain clean and safe environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies and sustainability for customers in the food, healthcare, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world. www.ecolab.com
Accord Australasia is the peak national industry association representing manufacturers and marketers of hygiene, personal care and specialty products, their raw materials suppliers and service providers. Their industry’s products are used every day across the nation in homes, public places, commercial premises, institutions, industry and farms. https://accord.asn.au/
The research was conducted nationally online over the period August 27-31, 2020, among a sample of 1232 people aged 18 years and over. To reflect the overall population distribution, results were post-weighted to Australian Bureau of Statistics data (Census 2016) on age, sex, area and highest level of schooling completed.We recognise that there are limitations to this research and it may not reflect completely the Australian population, but we did ask the same questions as in 2019.
Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688
Carrie-Ann Jeffries, Ecolab, 0418 518 903
Craig Brock, Accord Australasia, 0422 363 646
The following is the most recent media release from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and is included here with permission.
|Call for comment on a new type of genetically modified corn
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to allow the sale of food in Australia and New Zealand from a genetically modified (GM) corn.
FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the corn line (DP23211) has been genetically modified to give the plant the ability to protect itself from the herbicide glufosinate and the insect pest, corn rootworm.
“If approved, this type of GM corn could be used to make starch, grits, meal, flour, oil and sweetener.
“When assessing this application, our safety assessment is a critical part of the approval process.
“We looked at key safety aspects including the process used to transfer the gene into the plant, potential unintended changes, the nutritional content compared to non-GM corn and any potential allergic or toxic effects in humans.
“Our assessment found no potential public health and safety concerns with this variety of corn. It is as safe and healthy as non-GM corn varieties.
“To help people make informed choices about the food they buy, food from this corn would need to be labelled as ‘genetically modified’ if there was any novel DNA and/or novel proteins from the corn in the final food,” Mr Booth said.
To have your say, see our call for comment page. Submissions closes at 6pm (Canberra time) on 12 November 2020.
What happens to my feedback?
We will publish all submissions to our website as soon as possible at the end of the public comment period.
All feedback will be considered by FSANZ before making a decision on whether to approve the application.
Our decision will be notified to ministers responsible for food regulation who can ask for a review or agree to include the amendment in the Food Standards Code.
So there is this hugely popular dish eaten by many Australians – a crumbed chicken breast with a nice tomato and garlic sauce on top sprinkled with a thick layer of parmesan cheese, then put under the grill and often served with chips and salad.
The question is this – what is this delicious pub and club staple actually called?
According to research done recently by Arnotts, before the release of their new Shapes flavour,
34 percent of those surveyed nationally call it a Parma, 45 percent call it a Parmi / Parmy and then there is 21 percent who call it something else entirely. However in Victoria there is a strong preference for Parma with 64 percent of those surveyed preferring this to the 20 percent wanting to have it known as Parmi / Parmy. Interesting 50 percent of those surveyed in the Northern Territory do not want it abbreviated at all and prefer Chicken Parmigiana (they also do not want Parma at all).
Ok, so whether it is a Parma or a Parmi/Parmy is obviously still open for debate and it also looks like that depends upon where we are.
Surely we can at least agree on how to spell the whole name?
The research shows that 45 percent of people surveyed are spelling it different ways and 11 percent are way more interested in how it tastes than how to spell it. The following are some other ways that people are spelling it; Parmigana, Parmegiana, Parmegana and Parmajana
Ok, so we seem to be more interested in the taste than the spelling. So does everyone know what is actually supposed to go into making the perfect Chicken Parmigiana?
In the Arnotts research the people were asked what are the essential ingredients and beside the crumbed chicken, tomato / garlic sauce and parmesan cheese, the following were the responses;
Red wine (4%)
Of those surveyed in the Northern Territory 50 percent said that having an egg on top was the right way to serve it.
So how popular is this menu item?
The research showed that just under a quarter of Aussies eat at least two Chicken Parmigianas a month and over a quarter of those Victorians involved in the survey have chosen this pub favourite as the meal they want first when they get out of the COVID lockdown.
So the other big question is – where did this obvious Aussie favourite originate from?
It started as a baked type dish in Italian immigrant families in the North Eastern states of the USA around the 1950s.
So the health departments starts to receive notices of food poisonings and initiates an investigation to determine how many cases, what food, and what has happened to cause the outbreak.
This has traditionally meant inspectors visiting suspected premises and doing much testing and reviewing of processes to try an determine if all the cases are linked.
A tool which is starting to make this process easier is a technique called Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). This is a process which breaks down the cells of identified micro-organisms to determine their genome – DNA sequence.
By matching the genome from different micro-organisms which may have been involved in a food poisoning, it can be determined which microbe actually caused the outbreak. This then allows Inspectors to identify which food and location was involved.
Recently a technique has been developed at the University of Scotland which uses a method called the Minimal Multilocus Distance (MMD) method, which involves training a computer, with high accuracy, to identify the source of a food poisoning outbreak.
Although more research is required to develop the method to a point where it can be consistently used by health protection officials, like the Inspectors, it has successfully identified human cases to specific animals.
So bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella and other pathogens can potentially now be traced to a specific source by using specially trained computers.
The findings for this research were published in Scientific Reports and can be found at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-68740-6?proof=t
This sort of testing has the potential to greatly increase the likelihood of the source of food poisoning outbreaks being identified and as a result better actions can then be taken to ensure such outbreaks are reduced or prevented.
A new version of CODEX HACCP is on it’s way and should be available by the end of 2020.
The following are some of the changes expected;
1. Chapter One – Good Hygiene Practices
Still includes all the supporting programs but no specific inclusion of Allergens as a food safety hazard. However a Draft Cod of Practice for allergen Management for Food Business Owners is being released shortly.
2. The HACCP Preliminary Steps – remain as previously
3. HACCP Principles
a. Principle One – now reads as Conduct a Hazard Analysis and Identify Control Measures
b. Principle Two – remains as previously, however there will be an updated version of the Decision Tree being released shortly
c. Principle Three – the Critical Limits must now be “validated critical limits”
d. Principle Four – no change
e. Principle Five – now reads as …monitoring indicates a deviation from a critical limit …..
f. Principle Six – now reads Validate the HACCP Plan and then establish procedures for Verification to confirm that nthe HACCP System is working as intended.
g. Principle Seven – no change
4. Principle Six – changes mean that there needs to validation done before the HACCP Plan is implemented and Verification is to be done aqfter implementation and is evidence that shows consistency of the controls under production conditions.
5. Food Safety Culture – now embedded into HACCP with the requirement to establish and maintain a positive food safety cuture within the business,including each of the following;
a. Commitment by all
b. Leadewrship to set the right direction and ensure engagement
c. Awareness of all of food safety
d. Open and clear communication
e. Availability of sufficient resources to ensure food safety requirements are met consistently
6. Definition changes
a. Disposition instead of disposal or disposing
b. Deviation instead of loss of control
c. Validation is gone except for “validation of control measures” – which is about looking at the future of the process to ensure it will comply with requirements
d. Food Business Operator (FBO) is what we would call a Proprietor in Australia
e. Verification is about using evidence from the past to ensure that processes remain in compliance.
7. There is still no intergration with Food Fraud and it only deals with unintentional contamination, so HACCP will remain separate to and running alongside TACCP and VACCP.
The International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) has recently confirmed that in it’s opinion COVID-19 cannot be considered as a food safety hazard.
There is no evidence to this point that there is any link between eating or handling food and COVID-19 infections, so the ICMSF considers that this virus should not be seen as a food safety risk.
There are certainly food safety issues associated with COVID-19, particularly in relation to potential staff absences due to testing, isolation or illness, and new infection control practices and the impact these may have on production and operations.
The ICMSF is recommending that food businesses,especially those dealing with the public, build the required COVID-19 Safety plans into their current food safety programs and systems.
Although food businesses should already be good at handwashing and cleaning, new controls like the social distancing and, now, masks in workplaces need to be included in everyday management.
Local council Environmental Health Officers and Food Safety / Quality System Auditors will now be including checking of COVID-19 Safe Plans as part of their audits and inspections of food businesses.
To read the full ICMSF opiniongo to https://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-09/ICMSF%202020-COVID-19-final%20opinion.pdf
A confectionery company in Australia has just released an ad showing a female Orangutan having a wonderful time playing the drums in a forest. At first you find yourself wondering what is going on, then the voice over announces that this company is going 100 percent palm oil free.
So what is palm oil, where does it come from, why is it used and most importantly why is this company making an ad about being 100 percent palm oil free?
Palm oil is harvested from the fruit of the Africa oil palm tree and like coconut oil is a vegetable oil with a high level of saturated fats.
This makes it solid at room temperature, which gives it very special characteristics in a large variety foods.
Due to being a solid at room temperature, it gives a moist mouth feel and has a neutral taste, both of which make it very attractive to consumers.
Due to the high level of saturated fats it does not need to undergo the partial hydrogenation process that other oils need to have to achieve the same effect in the mouth. This significantly reduces the potential amount of trans fatty acids in the foods containing it. Which is a significant health benefit, although consumption of high levels of saturated fats should also be avoided.
It has excellent oxidation properties so does not turn rancid, depending upon the product containing it, there is an elimination or reduction of preservatives.
It is a ingredient that has a low financial cost for the benefits it gives to a variety of foods.
Currently in Australia there is no specific mandatory requirement for the labelling of Palm Oil on food products, even though there has been applications for this. It was denied as the application was not based on food legislation but environmental issues. Manufacturers who could have used it in their product and choose not to will often label the food as Palm oil free.
Although financially it is a cheap ingredient, it can have a very high social and environmental cost, depending upon where it is sourced from.
The beloved Orangutan’s preferred habitat is also the same places where these palm trees grow and traditionally this is where the harvests have occurred. This has significantly contributed to this magnificent creature now being on the endangered list.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is a group comprised of manufacturers who have made a decision to only use Palm oil which has been sources from eco-friendly areas.
With this oil being such a useful and cost effective ingredient, it is not likely to be leaving our ingredient lists anytime soon, but manufacturers now have a choice , they can source it from eco-friendly area, which will not impact on the Orangutan, or they can chose, like the confectionery company, to go Palm Oil free.
So this company has made a social decision to replace palm oil with other permitted ingredients to achieve the same texture and food safety and are advertising this through this new ad, we have seen lately.
This decision will mean that there is highly likelihood to have been an increased cost of raw materials, but the company has decided that it is prepared to wear that cost in the hope that by being more environmentally aware, and letting the public know, that there will be an increase in sales to offset this increase.
So the ad with the drum playing female Orangutan is an example of how organisations now need to not only consider financial costs but social and environmental costs as well in their decision making.
The following is a new recall notice from the New South Wales Food Authority and is included here with permission.
The NSW Food Authority advises:
Haigh’s Chocolates is conducting a recall of Haigh’s Milk MaltiChocs 250g. The product has been available for sale at Haigh’s Chocolates stores in NSW, SA and ACT.
- Haigh’s Milk MaltiChocs 250g, cardboard box
- Best Before 17 Jan 21
Problem: The recall is due to the presence of an undeclared allergen (hazelnut) as a result of hazelnut chocs being packaged in Maltichoc packaging.
Food safety hazard: Any consumers who have a hazelnut allergy or intolerance may have a reaction if the product is consumed.
Country of origin: Australia.
What to do: Consumers who have a hazelnut allergy or intolerance should not consume this product and should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice.
For further information please contact:
08 8372 7035
The following is a new media release from the food Safety Information Council and is included here with permission.
The Food Safety Information Council today alerted consumers about food safety risks, especially from parasites, in preparing your own raw fish dishes such as sushi, sashimi, ceviche, gravlax and cold smoked salmon. If learning how to make your own sushi has been one of your #quarantinegoals, consider where you source your ingredients, how you handle them and how you store both your ingredients and your final masterpiece.
Cathy Moir, Council Chair, said that fish is an important part of a nutritious diet and we should be consuming 2 to 3 serves of it each week. However, like any raw food, there can be some safety risks from raw fish dishes. She urged budding raw-chefs following global e-learning trends to keep both themselves and dinner-party guests safe.
‘There are food safety rules governing the raw fish dishes that you buy from a food outlet but, if you prepare them yourselves, remember that raw fish can be a hazardous food and can be a source of infection from parasites. Traditional additions to raw fish dishes such as vinegar, lemon juice or salt will not kill the infectious stages of parasites.
‘There is evidence that seafood parasitic illness is increasing around the world, although currently not widely reported in Australia. This increase may be due to a greater consumption of raw and undercooked wild caught fish, the fact that fishing boats throw more fish waste overboard and growth in numbers of sea mammals, such as seals, whales and dolphins, which are the major hosts of the anisakid parasite and lead to wild fish contamination.
‘Symptoms of parasitic infection are wide ranging and can include stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhoea, as well as allergic type reactions such as tingling tongue, cough, a strange rash, heart palpitations or even anaphylactic shock. Symptoms can occur within six hours or up to a week after consumption. Allergic symptoms can occasionally be immediate. Some of these symptoms may be prolonged or become chronic until the parasite is physically evicted from the body or appropriate treatment is prescribed by your doctor.
‘If you want to prepare raw fish dishes yourself follow these 6 simple tips:
- Know your source: source good quality fish from a reputable supplier that uses the Australian Fish Names Standard so you know what type of fish you are buying.
- Avoid that home catch: it is best not to use recreational fish caught personally, or by friends, in raw fish dishes.
- Freeze it: freezing the fish for a minimum of seven days (longer for large fish) will kill parasites. It’s important to know from your retailer if the fish you are purchasing has been frozen and for how long. Remember that freezing will not kill food poisoning bacteria or viruses or prevent allergic reactions from parasites.
- Wash your hands: before and after preparing the raw fish wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly.
- Wash your tools: make sure all utensils and chopping boards are thoroughly washed in warm soapy water and dried. Take particular care to scrupulously clean bamboo rolling mats for sushi; they should be scrubbed using a brush with soap under hot water to remove any food residue and left to dry thoroughly.
- Cool rice quickly: remember that sushi rice can also be a food poisoning risk as toxins can form if it cools slowly. Follow sushi recipes carefully, especially the amount of vinegar to be added, and once cooked divide the rice into small containers, cover and cool in the fridge. This is generally one of the most important food safety issues for sushi.
‘Pregnant women, the elderly and people with poor immune systems should not eat raw fish dishes or cold cooked prawns and cold smoked fish because of the potentially fatal risk of the food poisoning bacteria Listeria. This applies whether the raw fish dishes are bought commercially or prepared at home. A safer alternative for these groups is to cook any fish or seafood to at least 63°C in the centre using a thermometer.
‘We should all have more fish in our diets, and both raw and cooked sea foods are a great way of including more Omega 3 and 6 in our routine. Doing so safely doesn’t need to be a chore. When these points become part of food-prep habits, we roll up fun, safety and insta-worthy plates into one great evening,’ Ms Moir concluded.
Thanks to Associate Professor Shokoofeh Shamsi, Charles Sturt University for her expertise in fish parasites.
Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information see: