The following is from the website www.nationalallergystrategy.org.au
The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), as the leading medical and patient organisations for allergy in Australia, have developed the first National Allergy Strategy for Australia, in collaboration with other stakeholder organisations.
The Strategy aims to provide food businesses, particularly hospitals and food service businesses with tools to prevent food allergies being a problem. The tools include Guidelines, audits and a diet and menu guide for dieticians.
The tools can be found at https://www.nationalallergystrategy.org.au/resources/hospital-food-service
The Strategy is not only focussed on allergens in business but also on ways to reduce allergic reactions starting from infants and a specific site has been developed tpo provide information and tools to help parents of infants potentially reduce the likelihood of those infants developing food allergies. Have a look at this site – www.preventallergies.org.au
Allergies are not only from food but also drugs or medications. The Strategy is also concerned with reducing these allergies as well through the Drug Allergies Project.
The following is the latest media release from the Food Safety Information Council Ltd and is included here with permission.
The Food Safety Information Council today released advice about fermenting food and drinks at home.
Council Chair Cathy Moir said that, with the popularity of fermented food and drinks such as kombucha, yoghurt, cheese, sour cream, salami, soy sauce, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, kefir and fish sauce, many people are trying to ferment food at home.
‘While the fermentation process preserves food and adds different flavours, aromas and textures, the process can come with some food poisoning risks if not done correctly.
‘Many microorganisms are already present on food; but only some are desirable because they can start the fermentation while others are risky as they cause spoilage and food poisoning.
‘Vegetable foods fermented at home can sometimes rely on the activity of microorganisms naturally present on the raw food, for example, cabbage in sauerkraut. On the other hand, the bacteria used to ferment milk to make yoghurt and cheese or the yeast used in bread making have been purified and are available commercially as purified dried preparations called “starter cultures” either alone or in kits.
If you are fermenting food and drink at home follow these food safety tips:
- If you or someone in your household is pregnant, elderly or has a poor immune system, home fermented foods aren’t suitable because microorganisms that can make you sick may be present in the food or drink and survive the fermentation process. Manufactured fermented foods are a safer option as they are prepared under strict processing conditions and may be pasteurised. Additionally, fermented drinks such as kombucha can easily undergo a ‘secondary’ fermentation that produces alcohol to a level that would classify it as an alcoholic beverage.
- Choose reliable recipes and follow any instructions exactly, including how long the fermented food or drink may last. Label when you made the food so you don’t keep it for too long.
- Don’t use previously fermented foods to make the next batch, for example using some of your last batch of yoghurt to start the next. This is known as ‘back slopping’ and can reduce the effectiveness of the starter culture and allow bad bacteria to grow. This may not apply to all fermented products such as sourdough, kombucha and kefir starter cultures.
- Use good quality fruit and vegetables and make sure they are clean. Only use pasteurised milk in dairy products.
- Do not try to ferment meat, poultry or fish at home. This is highly risky, shop bought fermented meats are prepared under stringent conditions.
- If you have chemical allergies or sensitivities or if you have to avoid biogenic amines you need to check with your doctor as to whether the fermented foods you plan to create are safe for you to consume.
- Prepare your fermented foods in clean and sanitised containers that aren’t cracked or broken. Glass and food grade plastics that are not cracked or damaged are recommended. Do not use metal (other than food grade stainless steel) as it may react with the acidic products. Washed, new metal stainless steel buckets can be used and reused. Do not use ceramic containers, which might contain lead or garbage bags or bins to carry out the fermentation process.
For more information see our fact sheet fermenting food at home
Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or email@example.com
It is that time of the year when those with relatives in aged care centres turn up to visit and find a big sign on the door stating that the centre is in Lockdown and they are no able to go in, or if they do there are extra handwashing and other controls in place to what is required usually.
So what is a Lockdown and why do aged care centres need to have them?
A Lockdown is required in an aged care centre whenever there is an illness within the centre which must be isolated so that it can be contained and controlled. The aim of the lockdown is to contain the illness to specific residents and prevent it from spreading. This means that unless there is a very good reason, people are not allowed to come in from outside and the residents are restricted to their rooms.
Obviously no centre will have a lockdown for any longer than required as it is not only expensive, as staff can only work in the areas they were in when the lockdown was declared and cannot move around as normal, so overtime is often required , but is extremely disprutive to all. The residents must remain in their rooms for days and all food has to be brought to them and then cleared as they cannot go into the dining or common rooms. Staff and residents get cranky very quickly due to the lack of movement and interaction which can result in mistakes and other problems, so a lockdown is only called when it is necessary to protect residnets and prevent the spread of the infection.
Lockdowns can happen because of food poisoning, the flu and other conditions but it is more likely that in the cooler months in Australia, it is a virus called Norovorus which is the main reason for lockdowns in aged care centres.
So following is Norovirus information from the Food Standards Australia website – http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/foodborne-illness/Pages/Norovirus.aspx
What is norovirus?
Norovirus is the name given to a group of viruses that can be found in the gut of people.
What illness does it cause?
Norovirus causes gastroenteritis. This illness is not a nationally notifiable disease and doesn’t need to be reported to health authorities unless there is an outbreak.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms are frequent vomiting and watery diarrhoea, nausea, muscle aches, headaches and low fever. Symptoms usually begin between 24 to 48 hours after a person becomes infected (e.g. after eating contaminated food).
Sometimes infected people have no symptoms.
Most people are sick for one to three days.
Who can get sick?
Anyone can get gastroenteritis from norovirus, even if they’ve had it before.
In very young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems (e.g. cancer patients) the illness can be more serious due to dehydration.
Where does it come from?
Norovirus can get into water and food from the faeces (poo) or vomit of infected people, for example from contact with sewerage or dirty hands. The virus can stay infectious in the environment for a long time and might not be destroyed by common disinfectants.
Common foods that can be contaminated with norovirus include bivalve molluscan shellfish (e.g. oysters) and food that is ready to eat (won’t be further cooked).
How can people get sick?
- By eating or drinking contaminated food
- By touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your mouth (e.g. while eating)
- From infected people transferring the virus to food, cutlery, glassware and other things they touch
How can illness be prevented?
- Wash and dry hands thoroughly before preparing and eating food, especially after going to the toilet or changing nappies
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating
- Anyone who is sick with norovirus should not prepare food for others until 48 hours after vomiting and diarrhoea have stopped
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