So have you ever had a fried margarita?
In Texas, funnel cake batter is put through a margarita mixer, fried and then soaked in more margarita. It is served with whipped cream in a salt-rimmed glass.
What about a margarita made with ice cubes made from Lois Roederer Cristal Champagne valued at $450 per bottle?
The traditional recipe for a margarita is tequila, triple sec and lime juice with crushed ice, served in a salt rimmed glass. However there are many variations with added liquors and flavours.
The 22 February is International Margarita Day and there will be much celebrating of this iconic cocktail.
So where did it come from?
The simple answer is who really knows, but many of the possible origins are based on the name of this famous drink. Margarita is a possible nickname of Margaret (and also Peggy) and so the drink may have been made for or to honour a socialite in Texas or even the famous actress Peggy Lee.
Another possible origin of the cocktail is that it evolved from another drink called the “Daisy”, with the Mexican version becoming known as the Margarita.
Frozen maragritas are a very popular version of the drink, with the first Maragrita Machine made in 1971, when a soft serve machine was modified to meet a huge demand at a restaurant in Texas.
So what was the most expensive Margarita made?
It cost $2500 and was made, in 2018 in New York to celebrate the 70th Birthday of the Margarita. It was made with a tequila which cost $1800 a bottle and used the champagne ice cubes. It was called the Silk Stocking Margarita and was served in handblown Ralph Lauren crystal glasses (which you could take home).
The largest Margarita on record was 32,176 litres and was “served” in a 5.18-metre-tall tank. It is not a surprise to learn that the “Lucky Rita” was made in Las Vegas to celebrate the opening of a casino and took 60 people 300 hours to make.
If you have not had a Margarita yet, sounds like it might be a good time to give it a try.
Flexitarians are meat eaters who have decided because of ethical and health concerns to reduce their meat intake and significantly increase their plant based protein. They believe that their meat free choices are healthier, ethical, sustainable and more environmentally friendly that the traditional meat based meals.
They are right about plant based protein being more sustainable because it is suggested that a 1000 tonnes of raw material for manufacturing could be produced from a four square metre room in just a month.
To produce 1000 tonnes of meat would take quite a few animals and much in the way of water, land and other resources. It would also take significantly longer than just a month.
A bioreactor is a piece of equipment which is used to produce some forms of plant based proteins and these have been found to absorb significantly more carbon dioxide as part of the process than the same space filled with trees
So plant based protein is certainly more environmentally friendly and therefore obviously more sustainable.
Sources of plant based protein include; fungi, marine microalgae, yeasts, plants, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
There are many examples now starting to appear in our quick serve chains and supermarkets and this sector of the food industry is rapidly becoming mainstream.
Although the burgers, sausages, schnitzels, mince etc are vegan, are they products that Vegans want to eat? These products are not being developed for that market, as the main focus on the product development has been on the taste and texture and making them seem “meaty”. These are products that are very much designed to replace meat in diets.
So is the nutrition of the plant based protein products a match for the real thing?
Meat contains amino acids that may not be found in plant based proteins. However with some work and specific processes, the nutrient levels, and particularly the protein content and types of amino acids, of plant based protein products can be improved to a matching level and include all nine of the amino acids required by our bodies to construct muscle.
One aspect that flexitarians need to consider in their choice of plant based protein products is the allergy potential from the wheat and soy which are often used in the formulas.
There has been an increasing call for only mammalian milk to be called milk, and almond, rice etc milks to be called something else. The same is going to be an issue with the plant based protein – is it meat or isn’t? Can something be called a sausage or burger if it does not contain any animal protein?
Being a Foodie I can’t help myself but pick up new products whilst in the supermarket to try at home.
Last year I remember buying a packet of Lamington flavoured potato crisps with thoughts of what was going through the mind of the Food Technologist developing this one?
To take what is an Australia favourite and icon and put that sweet flavour into a product which is considered to be savoury was indeed a big move. This product was released only for a limited time for obvious reasons as it was most definitely not going to be a huge seller and was really released for Australia Day.
Crisps are a growth area right now in terms of flavours and textures, with flavours like Lamb & Mint, Lemon and Salt, Meat Pie and Sauce, and puffed flavoured potato products being just some examples on our supermarket shelves.
Crisps have long been a favourite due to yummy flavours and that crunch many people love. We all know that they are not healthy food but are something we sure enjoy. Just look at how many different types are in our supermarkets.
The teams developing new flavours and textures are doing it because their companies want to keep market share and maintain or increase profits. It is the same method used by Quick serve chains with new burgers being on the menu for limited times – to keep people buying the products.
There is an increasing market for healthy snacks, so to keep people buying the crisp, and similar foods, snack food companies need to keep developing new flavours and textures for people to try.
Food companies will often use events like Australia Day to release new flavours or additions to an existing range of products because this will also encourage people to buy the products.
Product Development is a key part of an food company’s marketing and it can take a long time to get the right product ready for release at the right time.
So planning for the Lamington chips as an example may well have started one to two years before the product was released as part of the Marketing Plan. It would start with people sitting around a room tossing around ideas and then goes through stages of idea approval, developing and tasting who knows how many samples until the right one is found, then into packaging design and approval, production, marketing development and then delivery to stores.
With a product like these crisps, there would be no need to change much in production except the flavours going onto the crisps, as it is an extension to the already existing range and not a whole new product. This would make the whole process much quicker, as there would be little engineering or equipment design or testing involved.
Product development is a fascinating job, especially with food, and it is a wonderful buzz to be able to see those products in people’s trolleys in the supermarket.
Campylobacter jejuni is not well known outside of those in the food industry, which is interesting because this bacteria is one of the leading causes of food poisoning in both Australia and New Zealand.
In fact, in New Zealand there were an estimated 539,000 cases of Campylobacteriosis with 284 deaths and an economic cost of US$380 million between 2009 and 2018.
Contaminated chicken meat has been identified as the largest single source even with the introduction of regulatory limits on contamination levels in fresh chicken meat by 2008, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The number of incidents is high compared to international standards.
So why are there so many cases from thios specific microbe in New Zealand?
It has been suggested by scientists in various journals that the reason is to do with regulatory control and the need for a revitalisation of the public health agency, with an independent regulator.
The first step would logically be a full review nationally of the poultry industry to work out and agreed response to preventing / controlling Campylobacter in chicken meat.
Based on the incidence of Campylobacteriosis in New Zealand and it’s massive impact on health and economy, there must be a priority by this new Regulator and system on controlling Campylobacter.
With the world focused on the disease COVID-19 , caused by the novel Coronavirus SAR COV-2, there is a real interest in micro-organisms now. To hear reporters saying words like variants and other words usually only heard coming from the mouths of scientists is definitely a new world.
So it seems like a good time to do a little reminding about the bacteria which are of most concern in the food industry.
If asked most people would be able to easily name two or three food poisoning bacteria, usually Salmonella, E,coli and maybe Staphylococcus or Listeria. That would be about as much as most know about food poisoning except that when they have had it, it is not something they have forgotten.
So for a great summary of the most important and common food poisoning bacteria go to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website – https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/foodborne-illness/Pages/default.aspx
Don’t forget there are other viruses out there beside that which cause COVID-19 which are a problem for humans, this includes Norovirus, which has made the news many times on cruise ships and in Aged Care centres.
The virus causing COVID-19 and it’s current, and coming, variants is here to stay and we have to learn how to manage it and ourselves around it. There will be a point in the future (and hopefully not that far off) when this virus will be like it’s cousin, Influenza, and be something we have learnt to live with.
Whilst we will learn to live with that virus in time, we have to always keep alert to the food poisoning bacteria and the methods we must always use to either eliminate or control them in our businesses and homes, because we will not be able to vaccinate against these.
The peak organisation for food technology in Australia, the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, released a report in October 2020 about the future of the Australian Food Manufacturing Sector.
The food industry in it’s many parts employees more Australians than any other industry type.
Manufacturing makes up an large part of the industry and is responsible for supplying the vast majority of the food we find in our supermarkets and hospitality related businesses.
If there are problems or issues with this vital part of the industry there is a direct impact on our economy.
The report was based on reviews of literature and interviews to then develop recommendations in a range of areas. These then lead to a significant conclusion.
The Report starts with an overview of the Global Picture, particularly looking at the food outlook and consumer insights and trends.
Then there is a snapshot of the Australian Food industry to establish an understanding of where we are and the issues and problems which exist or are emerging. This includes a look at both food and water security, as well as biosecurity, food waste. Any snapshot would not be complete without also looking at Agriculture and it’s impact on the food industry and food manufacturing in particular.
After the review of where we are and the associated issues, the report then presents recommendations for the following areas; Tax and Regulatory Reform, New Opportunities, the Power of Collaboration, Brand Australia and Infrastructure Investment.
The overall conclusion is that there are remarkable opportunities in the near and long term future for Australian Food Manufacturing, and significant potential problems and threats. It is recommended that to get the best from these opportunities and to eliminate or mitigate the risks, the governments across the country need to work with all stakeholders to establish an industry-led, food system strategic advisory body, chaired at the Ministerial level, to develop and coordinate an agreed National Food Plan.
The Report can be found at https://www.aifst.asn.au/Research-Papers
A new model for determining the impact of cross-contamination routes in the home kitchens has been developed by Researchers in a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) program and then possible intervention methods were studied to work out their effectiveness.
It was found that the cutting board had the highest impact on cross-contamination compared to the other potential sources in the model.
Replacement of kitchen utensils was found to be the best cross-contamination intervention method.
The model will help risk managers and food safety information providers develop the best communication to reduce cross-contamination.
The model is able to estimate the level of bacteria that will reach the consumer with different scenarios and then what impact the various intervention methods like handwashing, and utensil replacement have on those levels.
The work was done at the Centre for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands.
An article about the research can be found at https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2020.e181106
Pro-Visual Publishing, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA) Foundation have just released the Food Manufacturing Industry Guide to Workplace Safety 2021. The guide is an interactive augmented reality (AR) safety guide which will be distributed free of charge nationally.
It is wall mounted and provides useful year round information on food industry related hazard and hygiene issues. Each year the information is updated to ensure that those in the food industry are kept up to date.
This year the information contained includes;
- Fire safety in food factories.
- Health & hygiene advice.
- COVID-19 advice, regulatory compliance & associated global supply issues.
The AR feature enables access to further information, including FSANZ website links.
Copies of the Guide can be requested at (02) 8272 2611 or visit www.provisual.com.au
The digital feature of AR aims to enhance engagement and offers an aspect of interactivity that makes learning very easy with a phone or tablet, plus helps to make it a go-to piece over other print material. By simply downloading the free Pro-Vis AR app and scanning over any AR capable content, food manufacturers can access additional resources, including a variety of informative weblinks to information on the Food Standards website.
The following is great advice from the Food Safety Information Council to ensure that the school lunches that are about to once again become part of our lives meet food safety requirements.
6 tips for parents about how to prepare a safe lunchbox for children:
- When buying lunchboxes, choose those that have room for a frozen water bottle or freezer block and are easy to clean and dry.
- Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before preparing food, and wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
- Make sure ready-to-eat lunchbox foods are always kept separated from raw foods in the refrigerator, particularly raw meats, chicken, eggs, and seafood.
- Keep the lunch cool in the fridge until you are ready to leave home, then put an ice brick or frozen drink in it to keep it cold until lunchtime.
- During hot weather you may want to consider providing safer lunchbox alternatives that can be safely stored at room temperature, such as hard or processed cheese, uncut vegetables or tuna in a can.
- Discard any higher risk foods such as sushi, salads, meat, cut fruits, poultry, rice or eggs if your child brings them home uneaten.
For more helpful and easy food safety information go to the Food Safety information Council website at www.foodsafety.asn.au
The following is a recall notice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and is included here with permission.
O’Brien’s Leg Ham – Various Weights
Date published: 20 January 2021
O’Brien’s Wholesale Meats Pty Ltd is conducting a recall of the following O’Brien’s hams:
Full Boneless Leg Ham (various weights), use by 24 March 2021, 1 April 2021, 6 April 2021;
Champagne Leg Ham (various weights), use by 1 April 2021, 6 April 2021;
Half Leg Ham (various weights), use by 1 April 2021, 6 April 2021;
Full Leg Ham (various weights), use by 1 April 2021, 6 April 2021;
Half Boneless Leg Ham (various weights), use by 6 April 2021;
Third Leg Ham (various weights), use by 6 April 2021.
The product has been available for sale at independent food retailers including IGA and butcher shops in SA, NT, NSW and Vic, and Foodlands in SA.
The recall is due to microbial (Listeria monocytogenes) contamination.
Food safety hazard
Listeria may cause illness in pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly and people with low immune systems.
Country of origin
What to do
Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice and should return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund.
For further information please contact:
O’Brien’s Wholesale Meats Pty Ltd
08 8280 3911