We stand in front of the eggs in the supermarket and we are faced with a decision. There are caged eggs, barn eggs, free range eggs and organic eggs. which ones do we take home?
Do we consider the price only or do we think about how the hens are housed in our decision on which eggs to buy?
For many now that decision is not so much about the price anymore, as we are quite prepared to pay a little extra so that the hens laying our eggs have room to run around and scratch in the dirt and not spend all day in a small cage with little space to spread their wings or walk around.
At least the images we get through the media show that the hens producing caged eggs are held in small cages which do not allow for the natural movements and behaviours of the hens and so are not humane.
Barn eggs are from hens which are usually kept in sheds and have space to move around and scratch. Free range hens are allowed outside and there is a set number per hectare. Organic eggs are produced on farms which meet organic standards.
So which is better – caged, barn, free range or organic?
Well here’s something else to consider in that purchase decision. There is a species of Salmonella which can develop in the egg when it is being formed inside the hen. If this egg is then not fully cooked or is used in raw egg products like mayonnaise and aioli, this species of Salmonella can survive and potentially make people, particularly those in the High Risk Groups, ill.
So what has this got to do with the whole caged vs all other type of eggs debate?
It is this, studies have found that there is a significant decrease in the presence of this Salmonella species in eggs from caged hens compared to those where the hens are able to run around freely.
So now we have another factor to consider when choosing which eggs to take home – do I want to buy the eggs based on what is seen as humane reasons or do I want to buy eggs which are now known to be safer?
The food industry is now caught in a bind – the public perception is that caged eggs are “bad” and that it is good and right that we buy eggs from free range or barn hens and this seems to be increasing but we know that the risk from this Salmonella species is much less from the caged eggs.
How do we as an industry try to change the public perception or do we have to live with it and once again find ways to protect the public from their own beliefs.
It will indeed be interesting to see what comes out of this food safety vs humane issue which is now starting to brew with the egg industry and it’s implications to the food industry as a whole.
The following are current recalls
The following is from the NSW Food Authority and is included here with permission;
The NSW Food Authority advises:
Balfours Banger Chilli Cheese Kransky
Balfours Pty Ltd is conducting a recall of Balfours Banger Chilli Cheese Kransky due to the presence of an undeclared allergen (sesame).
The recalled product has been available for sale at Coles Express, BP, Caltex and Independent stores nationally.
- Balfours Banger Chilli Cheese Kransky, 150g
- Batch code TR9171 and TR9178
Problem: The recall is due to the presence of an undeclared allergen (sesame).
Food safety hazard: Any consumers who have a sesame allergy or intolerance may have a reaction if the product is consumed.
Country of origin: Australia
What to do: Consumers who have a sesame allergy or intolerance should not consume this product and should return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund. If you are concerned about your health, you should seek medical advice.
For further information please contact:
Balfours Pty Ltd
1300 300 032
Greens General Foods Pty Ltd is conducting a recall of the products below. The products have been available for sale at Major and Independent grocery retailers nationally and internationally.
- Lowan Rice Flakes, 500g, Plastic package, Best Before: 17/01/2020, 4/02/2020, 5/02/2020, 4/03/2020, 5/03/2020, 11/04/2020, 12/04/2020, 29/4/2020, 13/05/2020, 3/06/2020
- Lowan Rice Porridge, 500g, Box, Best Before: 17/01/2020, 18/01/2020, 5/03/2020, 6/03/2020, 12/04/2020, 6/05/2020, 14/05/2020, 3/06/2020, 4/06/2020
Problem: The recall is due to potential gluten contamination.
Food safety hazard: Any consumers who have a gluten allergy or intolerance may have a reaction if the product is consumed.
Country of origin: Australia
What to do: Consumers who have a gluten allergy or intolerance should not consume this product and should return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund. If you are concerned about your health, you should seek medical advice.
For further information please contact:
Greens General Foods Pty Ltd
Freecall: AU 1800 355 718
Monosodium glutamate is commonly known as MSG. It is considered by many people to be a bad additive and foods containing it should be avoided. However it is, in fact, a naturally occurring substance and is found in many foods.
To explain more about MSG, the following is from the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website – www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/msg/Pages/default.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2d3mZfWtWJKN8N5hvF1tvwpY2KRoNdq8kVYz2YVG9RkOcJ7vcrbBP1F3U
In 1908, a Japanese chemistry professor determined that monosodium L-glutamate (MSG) was responsible for the characteristic meaty or savoury taste of the broth of dried bonito and Japanese seaweed. Since then, various salts of glutamic acid including MSG (all of which are also known as ‘glutamates’) have been commercially produced and deliberately added to food as a flavour enhancer.
Glutamates also occur naturally in almost all foods, including meat, fish, vegetables and mushrooms. Even breast milk contains naturally occurring glutamate. In general, protein-rich foods such as meat contain large amounts of bound glutamate, whereas vegetables and fruits (especially peas, tomatoes, and potatoes) and mushrooms tend to contain high levels of free glutamate. Certain cheeses, such as Parmesan, also contain high levels of free glutamate.
There is no chemical difference between added and naturally occurring glutamate.
Is MSG safe?
MSG is considered safe and is an authorised food additive in the EU and Australia and New Zealand in line with good manufacturing practice (GMP). This means that a food manufacturer can use a food additive only up to the limit that achieves its specific purpose.
A small number of people may experience a mild hypersensitivity-type reaction to large amounts of MSG when eaten in a single meal. Reactions vary from person to person but may include headaches, numbness/tingling, flushing, muscle tightness, and general weakness. These reactions normally pass quickly and do not produce any long-lasting effects.
If you suspect that you might be reacting to MSG, you should confirm this through an appropriate clinical assessment. Seek advice from your GP or a dietitian who can arrange for an assessment. Specialist clinics in most states and territories and in New Zealand perform such assessments.
Glutamates safety assessments
The safety of MSG has been reviewed by FSANZ, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).
Each of these reviews concluded that MSG does not represent a health concern for the general population. An acceptable daily intake (ADI) was not established by JECFA on the basis of the low toxicity of MSG and its use levels in foods.
FSANZ is aware of the recently published scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on glutamic acid and glutamates added to food. The opinion does not raise new safety issues not considered as a part of the FSANZ assessment.
How can I tell if a food has MSG in it?
Food manufacturers must declare when MSG is added, either by name or by its food additive code number 621, in the ingredient list on the label of most packaged foods. For example, MSG could be identified as:
- ‘Flavour enhancer (MSG)’, or
- ‘Flavour enhancer (621)’.
Ingredient labelling also applies to other added permitted glutamate food additives, which have food additive code numbers 622 – 625.
MSG doesn’t have to be declared when a food is not required to bear a label, for example in restaurant or takeaway food, but if you ask the staff whether or not it is added to food they should be able to tell you.
When glutamates and glutamate salts are naturally present in a food (e.g. in meat, or in mushrooms), or in an ingredient of a food (e.g. in yeast extract, or hydrolysed vegetable protein (HVP)), they don’t have to be labelled.
Can claims such as ‘MSG free’ be made about food?
The Food Standards Code does not specifically regulate the claims ‘No added MSG’ and ‘MSG free’. In Australia, such labelling claims are subject to the Australian Consumer Law, as administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). In New Zealand these claims are subject to the New Zealand Fair Trading Act 1986, as enforced by the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC). Care may be needed in using these types of claims, as MSG can be naturally present in some foods.
So you have probably seen a sign outside restaurants and cafes showing how many stars the business has for Food Safety.
The Star Rating may vary a little across Australia but the following is a rough guide for what each rating means;
5 Stars – Excellent Performer and fully complies with the relevant food safety legislation
4 Stars – Very Good Performer with high compliance to the relevant food safety legislation
3 Stars – Good Performer with a good level of compliance with relevant food safety legislation
2 Stars – Poor Performer with a low level of compliance with relevant food safety legislation
No Stars – no compliance with rlevenat food safety legislation
In general, businesses with a 3 Star rating and above will have their rating on display.
The Rating for each business is determined using a set checklist by an Environmental Health Officer from their local council and is done annually.
The rating system is designed to enable customers to be able to easily see just how well a food business complies with food safety legislation.
However all most custmers see is the number of stars and have no real idea what it actually means except that 5 Stars must be the best and so are more likely to eat there than elsewhere with a lesser rating.
Although a Star rating is now being commonly used by many councils across Australia, other types of rating systems are in use in other countries.
In the USA there are some jurisdictions using A, B, C and in others colours (Green, Yellow, White and Red) are being considered.
So the question is this, if the intent of a food safety rating is to do two things; improve food safety generally through using a set system and then to let the public know what each business’s food safety compliance is, then is it better to use a number based system like the Australian stars, or an alphabetic system like A,B and C, or colours?
And does it actually matter which format is best seen by customers, if they do not actually understand what the rating in use even means?
Listeria monocytogenes likes cold temperature, so is a significant potential problem in food factories with cold equipment and processes.
These businesses must include specific controls in their food safety programs to address the potential presence of Listeris in their cold equipment or food.
The food needs to be tested for Listeria prior to release to ensure it is not present.
As Listeria is easily killed by heating, this can be used to ensure that cold rooms are clear of this pathogen. This can be done by clearing the room of stock, and cleaning as per usual requirements. Then heaters are brought in and the room heated to 50°C and held at that temperature for a prescribed time to kill the pathogen. The room is then cleaned again as per the usual requirements. The cold room is then returned to operating temperature and the food returned.
For more information on Listeria monocytogenes – https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Documents/Listeria%20monocytogenes.pdf
The following was posted on the Food Safety News website on 16 July 2019 and show just how big a Listeria based recall can be – https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/07/nationwide-recall-includes-dozens-of-products-many-sent-to-regional-grocery-chains/
Dozens of hummus products sold under several grocery brands as well as others are under recall after Listeria monocytogenes was found at a manufacturing facility.
Pita Pal Foods LP of Houston did not report how many pounds of product are subject to the recall. The company also did not post any product photographs with the notice on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.
The recalled hummus products were made between May 30 and June 25. Pita Pal distributed the products nationwide in the United States and exported some to the United Arab Emirates.
“Consumers who have purchased products listed below with these use by dates are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund,” according to the company’s recall notice. “Consumers with questions may contact the company at 832-803-9295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.\”
The products subject to this recall are listed in the chart below
Information about Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.
Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled product should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.
Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.
Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite.
A person is most infectious when they have diarrhoea, but the parasite may be excreted for several days after symptoms disappear
The time between becoming infected by the parasite (known as the onset) and becoming sick is usually about one week. The Cyclospora parasites infect the small intestine, usually causing watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Although some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms, other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may also be evident.
With flu season on us in Australia, it is worth being aware that the flu may not in fact be the flu, it may be some other condition like Cyclosporiasis.
The symptoms may last for up to two weeks but there may be sporadic symptoms for a month.
The parasite is killed by heat but iodine and chlorine do not kill it, so water treated with these will not be safe from Cyclospora.
It is a requirement in Australia that once identified as Cyclosporiasis the case must be reported to the Health Department by the testing Laboratory.
Sulphur based antibiotics can be used to treat a Cyclospora case.
The following is from the Fishfiles website, which is an an initiative of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) to provide accurate and informative information on Australia’s sustainable seafood.
Every few years the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) produces Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) reports and publishes these at fish.gov.au. The reports are based on a consistent national reporting framework developed by fisheries scientists across Australia. These reports bring together all the available information on Australia’s key wild catch fish stocks and give a rating (and colour) to each species.
|Status of Australian Fish Stock (SAFS) classification framework|
|Color||Stock Status||Simplified Definition|
|Fish stock size (biomass) is above a minimum level (limit reference point) for the stock, and fishing pressure is adequately controlled (there is no overfishing)|
|DEPLETING||Fish stock size is above a minimum level (limit reference point) for the stock, but fishing pressure is too high|
|RECOVERING||Fish stock size is too low but fishing pressure is adequately controlled and stock is recovering|
|DEPLETED||Fish stock size is too low and fishing pressure too high, or fishing pressure has been reduced but recovery not yet detected|
|UNDEFINED||Not enough information available to make a reliable assessment|
|NEGLIGIBLE||Catches are so low as to be considered negligible|
For a full description of the SAFS classification system see How are the Status of Australian Fish Stock Reports done on the SAFS website.
For the 2018 SAFS (Status of Australian Fish Stocks) Reports almost 80% of the 406 stocks (120 species) were able to be assessed. Of the stocks assessed around 80% were rated sustainable (green).
The SAFS website provides access to not only the top line results, but also all the information that supports the rating. You can also download the SAFS app, just search SAFS Sustainable Fish Stocks in the Google Play Store or the App Store.
Very important to note that the sustainability status of a species can vary from stock to stock and state by state. Therefore, if you are concerned ask where the fish was caught, then check the status on the App or website.
For more information go to https://www.fishfiles.com.au/Experts/HealthProfessionals/Seafood-sustainability
The following is from a media release from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and is included here with permission.
Australian Total Diet Study demonstrates safety of the food supply
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth says the results of the 25th Australian Total Diet Study (ATDS), released today, again demonstrate the safety of the Australian food supply.
Mr Booth said 88 foods were tested for 226 agricultural and veterinary chemicals and four metals: arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury.
“The levels of agricultural and veterinary chemicals were generally very low, with a majority of samples having no detectable residues,” Mr Booth said.
“Estimated dietary exposures for all but one chemical were below the relevant acceptable daily intakes (ADIs), indicating no public health and safety concerns,” Mr Booth said.
“Estimated dietary exposure to the insecticide prothiofos exceeded the ADI for some population age groups. FSANZ informed the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) which subsequently worked with industry who voluntarily changed the way prothiofos is used to ensure that risks for Australian consumers are acceptably low.
“For metal contaminants, all detections were below the maximum levels set in the Food Standards Code and consistent with international levels.
“Estimated dietary exposure to methylmercury (through the consumption of fish) exceeded the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) for children aged 2 to 5 years. The risks in this case are balanced by the known benefits of fish consumption. FSANZ has published consumer advice to manage dietary exposure to mercury while highlighting the health benefits.”
Media contact: 0401 714 265 (Australia) or +61 401 714 265 (New Zealand)
Food security is fundamentally about the right food being in the right place at the right time and for the right people.
It is an essential function, and usually not public, of all governments to ensure food security for their people and strong food safety regulations and culture is essential to making sure this can be met consistently.
The following is from a brochure, “The Future of Food Safety”, from the Food and Agicultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and is included here with permission. The full brochure can be found at http://www.fao.org/3/ca4289en/CA4289EN.pdf
Ready access to safe and nutritious food is a basic human right. Yet every year around the world, over 420 000 people die and some 600 million people – almost one in ten – fall ill after eating contaminated food. In fact, foodborne hazards are known to cause over 200 acute and chronic diseases from digestive tract infections to cancer. The ramifications of the cost of unsafe food, however, go far beyond human suffering. Contaminated food hampers socioeconomic development, overloads healthcare systems and compromises economic growth and trade. Opportunities of an increasingly-globalized food market are lost to countries unable to meet international food safety standards. Food safety threats cause an enormous burden on economies from disruptions or restrictions in global and regional agri-food trade, loss of food and associated income and wasted natural resources.
If it is not safe, it is not food. Food security is achieved when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. Food safety plays a critical role across the four pillars of food security – availability, access, utilization and stability.
Availability – the amount of food of all types available within an area or country – including imports, production, aid and stocks.
Access – the physical, economic and social access people have to food
Utilisation – the available and accessible food must be both safe and nutritious
Stability – the food must be present at all times to ensure that it can be effective
A food recall is when product is retrieved from customers if there is a possible food safety problem with a food.
There are three type of food recalls; Consumer, Trade and Mock.
A Consumer Recall occurs when the affected food has reached the shelves and is accessible to consumers, for example ; from supermarkets or manufacturers.
It is the most expensive type of recall in terms of the costs of retrieving the product and also on it’s potential impact on the company’s brand and future sales.
A Trade Recall occurs when the food has only made it as far as the warehouse in the suppy chain and there is no need to inform consumers that it is happening.
Mock Recalls are required for all businesses that must have a recall program. It is a trial of the business’s recall program and must be done at regular scheduled intervals to test that the program is effective and to give practice if ever a Consumer or Trade Recall is required.
All businesses which manufacture, import, distribute or wholesale food must have a food recall program.
All recalls must be run according to the Food Industry Recall Protocol;
There are specific documents which must be completed or used for recalls, and templates for these can be found at