National Science week will soon be here again – 14-22 August. Although the focus is obviously on schools and encouraging kids to take an interest in science, there are events all across Australia which will be of interest to almost everyone. So what will you be doing to get involved in science in August?
For more information about what is happening in your state go to https://www.scienceweek.net.au/
2021 is also an important science year, not just because of all the issues associated with COVID-19 and vaccinations, it is the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.
One of the innovative and fun promotions for this important year are the Fruit and Vegetable Playing Cards, developed through the Australian Department of Agriculture.
The 53 cards each show a picture of an Australian fruit, vegetable or nut and the nutritional content of 100 grams of each.
A game has also been developed to help highlight how important the nutritional content of our fruits, vegetable and nuts are to the Australian diet. It is hoped that this tool will help encourage kids and then grown ups to eat more of these essential food items.
To find the cards and material for printing, and the game, go to https://www.scienceweek.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/iyfv_nutrition_cardspdf.pdf
The following is the latest media release from the Food Safety Information Council and is included here with permission.
As the weather gets cold, and we may be cooking up a storm in lockdown, the Food Safety Information Council is warning people to be food safe when preparing, refrigerating, freezing and transporting hot food.
Cathy Moir, Council Chair, said that this is a great time of year to bulk cook ‘winter warmers’ such as soups, casseroles and stews, or even large amounts of rice and pasta, but if we don’t handle them properly then they can be a food safety risk.
‘Cooking in bulk is cost effective, saves time and reduces food waste. However, we need to be extra careful handling these large amounts of food because, if they are left to cool slowly, bacteria can grow and produce dangerous toxins that won’t be destroyed by further cooking so make sure you follow these simple food safety tips:
- Cooking safely. Make sure your bulk cooked food reaches a temperature of 75°C in the centre using a cooking thermometer. If you use a slow cooker always follow the instructions and make sure it keeps the food at a safe holding temperature of 60°C or above until you are ready to eat it.
- Storing your left overs safely. If you have cooked a large batch of food divide the food into small portions, about the size of a takeaway container, so they cool quickly. Either freeze them, if you want to keep them longer, or refrigerate at or under 5°C as soon as they have stopped steaming. Use them within 2 to 3 days (or one day if you are in a high-risk group such as being pregnant, elderly or having a poor immune system). Don’t forget to write the date on the container.
- Taking lunches to work (once you’re back). If your lunch has been refrigerated or frozen, whether it is a leftover or commercial product, transport it quickly and put it in the fridge when you get to work. If your refrigerated or frozen lunch needs reheating it must be at least steaming hot to be safe. Use the automatic reheat function in the microwave if possible and follow any prompts or instructions to stir the food or let it stand for a time after reheating.
- Vacuum flasks. If you want to use a vacuum flask to transport hot food choose a good quality one and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are using a flask for a young school child make sure they can open it easily. Before you add hot food fill the flask with boiling water for a few minutes so it warms up inside and then empty it out. Warm up your food to at least 75°C and put it in the flask just before you or your child leaves home. Make sure the food is in a form such as a soup, casserole or stew so that there are no air spaces as that will retain the heat better; avoid food like chicken nuggets that will have air spaces in between as they will not keep as warm. Clean the vacuum flask thoroughly after use taking particular care around the screw lid which can trap food particles.
‘There is more information about bulk cooking on our website here ,’ Ms Moir concluded.
Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or email@example.com
Food Fraud is an increasing issue for the food industry and consumers alike.
Certain species, names, ingredients and food areas are known for having better taste, texture, appearance, environmental impact, or social impact, and people are prepared to pay more for these.
When foods which do not have the special characteristics are fraudulently substituted for these special foods, it is called food fraud and it is a very lucrative business.
When a consumer spends good money on a food because of what the label says, they need to be sure that the food matches what is on the label.
When the producer is stating that the food is of a certain species, or from a certain area, or made with certain ingredients or has a certain name, they need to be confident that the label is correct.
So what can be done to reduce the likelihood that this illegal operation occurs?
There has been a lot of work being done by scientists across the food industry to find ways to either mark the foods or ingredients, or to clearly identify specific characteristics so they can be traced.
Food Forensics was born, and particularly the field of study called food provenance. Provenance is the ability to be able to show the history of an item, so for food it is about being able to show exactly where the food has come from and what has happened to it between paddock and plate.
The latest process being considered is using chemometric and spectroscopic techniques to create and verify “digital signatures” of food.
Spectroscopy is used to determine the exact composition of a food or ingredient and then when combined with the analysis of chemometric techniques a fingerprint as such of the sample is determined.
This can then be compared with other samples in future to see if they match and show if those samples are frauds.
The key to the provenance with this method is to first identify the fingerprint of the confirmed special food or ingredient at each stage of production to provide the baseline for future comparisons.
This new method of potentially reducing or hopefully preventing food fraud is being done through the University of Queensland’s Queensland Alliance for Agricultural and Food Innovation.
For more information – go to https://qaafi.uq.edu.au/article/2021/06/digital-signature-technology-authenticates-food
Food safety is not just for humans. Animals need to have safe food as well.
At least 50 pets have fallen ill to date and 12 dogs have died due to liver failure / toxicity in Victoria. The state’s Agriculture department has issued a statewide alert over raw dog meat.
The common link is a knackery in Gippsland, and infection has been ruled out after an investigation.
Agriculture Victoria has issued a statewide alert over frozen or fresh raw dog meat brought between May 31 and July 3 from Gippsland, after another three dogs died from liver toxicity.
Although it has not yet been confirmed that this meat is the cause of the liver failure, each dog that has fallen ill was linked to it.
Agriculture Victoria has warned pet owners to immediately contact their pet if their animal is showing signs of; Reduced appetite, increased thirst, vomiting or yellowing around the eyes and gums.
More than a decade ago the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) set up a system called Petfast which triggers a notification to vets about issues. This alert has now gone out on the system.
AVA spokeswoman Doctor Melanie Latter said; “The AVA has been calling for better regulation of the pet food industry for many years. We strongly recommend that there should be regulatory mechanisms in place for mandatory recall and investigation of adverse events that are associated with pet food.”
The Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) is in support of this call for there to be mandatory pet food standards for both domestic and imported pet food.
PFIAA executive manager Carolyn Macgill said; “Our goal is for mandatory rather than voluntary standards and recall protocols to be established for all pet food manufacturers and marketers in Australia.”
Standards for pet food, including food safety, and how they would be developed and implemented has been under review for some time and it will be the responsibility of state and territory governments to put them in place.
In early 2020 an assessment was realeased by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), which showed that there was a wide and significant distribution of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in German flour.
123 strains were found in flour products between 2015 and 2019 across the country. Wheat flour had the highest quantity of isolates with rye flour second. It was also found that some samples had more than one strain of E.coli.
The study was published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.
The strains were found in multiple locations so the contamination could not have been a single source.
A possible explanation for the contamination may be wild animals or maybe the water used during processing or cleaning.
One thing is certain, that based on this study, flour cannot be considered to not be a food safety issue, even though it is low moisture ingredient.
The study reinforces the advice provided by food safety authorities across the world, that uncooked flour in products like cake batter or cookie dough should not be eaten.
The following are some of the results from the last Handwashing survey done by Omnipoll for the Food Safety Information Council.
Less diagnosed food poisoning. 2020 saw a drop in diagnosed cases of Campylobacter and Salmonella poisoning.
✔︎ Handwashing improved after toilet use.
✖︎ Handwashing decreased before food preparation. There was a 5 per cent drop (down to 58 percent) in the number of people who said they always washed their hands before handling food.
✖︎ Need to close the gender gap. Men were less likely than women to say they always wash their hands before touching food (53 percent compared to 62 percent).
✖︎ Need to close the age gap. Only 55 percent of individuals aged between 18 and 34 said they always wash their hands before handling food, compared with 61 percent of those older than 50.
These findings highlight the need to promote handwashing before and after handling food to reduce the risk of contamination and foodborne illness.
For tips on correct handwashing technique, see the Food Safety Information Council website.
The following is a new recall notice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and is included here with permission.
Bakers Collection Gingerbread Men
Date published: 03 July 2021
Bakers Collection Gingerbread Men, 50g
Bakers Collection Gingerbread and Chocolate Men (mixed), 50g
Dallas International is conducting a recall of the above products. The products have been available for sale at independent food retailers in NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC, TAS, SA, NT, WA
Bakers Collection Gingerbread Men, 50g : Best Before 21 Dec 2021
Bakers Collection Gingerbread and Chocolate Men (mixed), 50g : Best Before 13 Dec 2021
The recall is due to the presence of an undeclared allergen (milk)
Food safety hazard
Any consumers who have a milk allergy or intolerance may have a reaction if the product is consumed.
Country of origin
What to do
Consumers who have a milk allergy or intolerance should not consume this product and should return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund.
For further information please contact:
+61 3 9458 8000
The CSIRO Healthy Diet Score survey has some new results. It is showing that junk or discretionary foods are the number one issue impacting Australian diets. This is resulting in higher rates of obesity, poor nutrition and the inevitable higherlifestyle disease risk.
The survey is showing that we are eating as much as 5.1 serves of junk foods (or around 3000kJ) each day, which is twice what is recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
Alcohol is the biggest contributor at 21 percent of the discretionary food intake, followed by cakes and biscuits at 19 percent, sugar sweetened beverages at 12 percent and then savoury pies and pastries at nine percent.
A new free online tool has now been launched by the CSIRO to assist people recognise what the impact of junk food is to their diets and to suggest ways to reduce that intake.
“Launching just in time for those who may have overindulged this Easter, the new Junk Food Analyser provides individuals with specific advice on which categories of discretionary foods they are consuming the most, with the interactive tool providing strategies and tips on where kilojoules can be reduced, which is essential for weight loss,” CSIRO research scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie said.
“While the elimination strategy is common in diet programs and can reduce kilojoules the most, the interactive Junk Food Analyser lets users explore a combination of strategies to reduce discretionary food intake, without cutting their favourite foods altogether. That might include choosing to eliminate alcohol, take a break from cakes and biscuits and halve confectionery consumption,” Dr Hendrie said.
To do the Junk Food quiz go to www.junkfoodanalyser.com
A New Natural Blue colouring is now available.
Stop and think for a minute – how many blue foods do you know of?
The first food that comes to mind are blueberries and maybe then blue vein cheese, and then the struggle begins in trying to think of others.
Blue is not a usual colour of food and in fact humans tend to stay away from blue foods as in the dark dim past blue was probably associated with mould and so we have learnt over time to not eat food this colour.
However blue colouring is essential to get the right tones of other colours, particularly green. Currently a synthetic blue colouring is usually used as natural blue colourings are rare.
A group of international researchers, including University of California, Davis chemists and scientists at the Mars Advanced Research Institute and Mars Wrigley Science and Technology, The Ohio State University, Nagoya University, Japan; the University of Avignon, France; and SISSA University, Italy, have recently discovered a new colouring called Cyan Blue which is a natural blue. It has been sourced from red cabbage. The work was published in Science Advances on 7 April.
The blue anthocyanin is only present in the red cabbage in very small amounts so a process has had to be developed to make more available.
The key was enzymes. Much research had to be done and finally a specific enzyme was designed which has allowed for the tiny amount of this blue anthocyanin to be converted into a useable natural blue colouring.
As a result of this research a start up company has been set up to develop the technology involved in this process for commercial applications.
The following is a recall notice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and is included here with permission.
Meraki Shiraz 2020 Vintage
Date published: 22 June 2021
Meraki Shiraz 2020 Vintage
Zilzie Wines Pty Ltd is conducting a recall of Meraki Shiraz 2020 Vintage (750ml). The product has been available for sale in Liquor Stax outlets, which are a collective of independent outlets in NSW, QLD, VIC and WA.
Lot number L20259
The recall is due to the presence of foreign matter (glass) from a packaging fault.
Food safety hazard
Food products containing glass may cause injury if consumed.
Country of origin
What to do
Consumers should not drink this product and should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.
For further information please contact:
Zilzie Wines Pty Ltd
1800 718 500