Watch out for Salmonella poisoning as temps rise

Egg food safetyNSW Health is warning people to be wary of Salmonella poisoning as summer temperatures rise, with 201 cases already reported across the state in November 2017.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases NSW Health, said careful preparation and storage of food is the best defence against salmonellosis – a type of gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella bacteria found in animals.

“Products containing undercooked eggs, and the spread of germs in the kitchen, are the most common source of salmonellosis outbreaks in NSW,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Salmonellosis can be quite severe and people sometimes have to be hospitalised to manage dehydration, particularly in young babies, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems.”

Salmonellosis symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms usually start around six to 72 hours after the contaminated food is eaten and usually last for four to seven days, but can continue for much longer.

Altogether 1391 salmonellosis cases were reported in NSW last summer.

“It is important that people do not prepare food for others while they are unwell with salmonellosis and, as a precaution, for 48 hours after symptoms have passed.”

NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said to reduce the risk of Salmonella poisoning, consumers and food retailers can use commercially produced products instead of handmade mayonnaise and sauces when preparing food.

“It is also much safer to use commercially pasteurised eggs rather than raw eggs in ready-to-eat products such as desserts and dressings,” Dr Szabo said.

“Businesses in NSW must comply with strict requirements around the use of raw eggs in foods. Retailers should remember that food laws in NSW prohibit the sale of eggs with dirty or cracked shells, which increase the risk of contamination, and should reject any eggs that are not intact.

“While preparing and handling food, keep benches and utensils clean and dry and do not allow cross contamination of raw and cooked products.”

Dr Sheppeard said food must be cooked thoroughly to kill Salmonella and food should not be left out in the heat. The longer food is left at room temperature the more the Salmonella bacteria will multiply. Refrigerated food should be kept at less than five degrees Celsius and hot foods should be kept above 60 degrees Celsius.

“Most people recover from salmonellosis by resting and drinking fluids but antibiotics are required in complicated cases,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Salmonellosis can take the joy out of the festive season but just a few simple precautions with the preparation and storage of food can make all the difference.”

For further information, see the Salmonellosis fact sheet on the NSW Health website.

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How Australians will eat this Christmas

Here are a snippet of the results of a survey conducted by Woolworths into how Australians plan on eating this Christmas –

  • Australians will eat Christmas dinner with an average of eight people and will be sharing the cooking among all guests
  • almost two-thirds of Australia’s will share food preparation tasks with close to half saying family and friends will be supplying the drinks.
  • One in three Christmas hosts will be leaving it up to their guests to bring the snacks.
  • “ham will continue to take the top spot as their main meat feature on the Christmas table, along with turkey, while prawns will be the people’s seafood of choice and Christmas pudding will be the main showcase when it comes to dessert time”, claims Woolworths Director of Buying and Merchandising, Steve Donohue

If you’re interested to see more Woolworths Christmas statistics click the link –

http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2017/11/29/how-australians-will-be-eating-this-christmas.html

Gold Coast Restaurant fined for poisoning diner

Top One Chinese Restaurant, at Australia Fair, Southport has been fined $25,000 for failing to comply with food safety laws after toxic chemicals were mistakenly put into a salt shaker.

As a result of the mishap, a diner sustained acid burns in his mouth.

Court documents show Environmental Health officers who attended the restaurant later found the problem – a number of “unlabelled containers” of white substances, including a 10kg tub of caustic soda in a cupboard at the restaurant. Testing the shaker given to them by the customer’s daughter, they found it contained sodium hydroxide.

This is commonly known as caustic soda.

Terry Moore, from the Gold Coast Public Health Unit, said the court action sent a message to the industry.

“Poisons such as a caustic soda should be appropriately labelled and stored safely. Staff must also be trained in the safe use and storage of poisons,” Moore told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

 

GMO Labels Explained

Want to know more about our world of Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO’s and what these labels on food mean? Harvest Public Media’s Jeremy Bernfeld explains in this video –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trE_COT4C9A

Aussies eating out more often

happy people eating clean food

The NPD Group has reported that foodservice spend is up in Australia for the second quarter of 2017.

The Australian economy posted a slight uptick this quarter. Consumer sentiment remains low, and consumer pricing continues to outpace wage growth for the second consecutive quarter. Some signs of recovery are starting to appear, but more must be done to improve the overall economic situation.

Despite the prevailing economic pressure, consumer spending in foodservice is up this quarter from +1% in Q1 2017. Visits and average eater cheque contributed equally to the growth in spend.

As consumers become increasingly cautious about their spending, quick service restaurants (QSR) and retail are reaping the benefit. Retail captured far more than its fair share of industry-wide traffic growth, with supermarkets posting the majority of gains for the channel.

Families remain a bright spot in the foodservice industry, with visits up again this quarter.

W.A. Food Poisoning Link to Eggs

There has been an “Egg Alert” issued in Western Australia as cases of salmonella food poisoning have surged x4 the usual number. This has been associated with eggs.

The WA Health Department has advised people to avoid eating raw or runny eggs after seeing a surge in salmonella food poisoning that has been associated with eggs.

People are being warned to stay clear of cracked or dirty eggs and to wash and dry hands properly.

Click the link to view the full article –

 

https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/food-poisoning-link-to-eggs-ng-b88500374z

If you work in an area where you are handling food, particularly containing eggs, contact www.cft.com.au to ensure you are fully aware of your responsibilities to ensure food safety.

NSW sick eggs decline

NSW cases of salmonella relating to raw eggs might be on the decline but what about the rest of Australia?  Did you know that Australia has one of the highest rates of Salmonellosis (human illness) in the world.

Research by the NSW Food Authority shows that Salmonella Typhimurium has been the dominant subtype of Salmonella poisoning across Australia, typically accounting for over half of all salmonellosis cases up to 2014.  Commonly found on farms and linked to many raw egg outbreaks Salmonella Typhimurium cases appear to be on the decline with a higher decrease in salmonella cases than other states.  However the overall number of salmonella cases is still trending up.  The is recent data from NSW Health.

There are several factors which have likely contributed to such a large decline in NSW. These include:
• A commitment and a focus from all industry sectors and NSW DPI Biosecurity and Food Safety to work together to see a reduction in salmonellosis cases
• Development of the NSW Food Authority Food Safety Guidelines for the Preparation of Raw Egg Products
• Adopting a tough approach on raw egg products
• Training for local government EHOs in raw egg guidelines and enforcement, and
• Revamped Food Safety Supervisor modules focussing on raw egg products and cleaning and sanitising.

While this is positive news regarding S. Typhimurium, unfortunately other types of  salmonella are still on the increase. NSW has a target to reduce foodborne illness by 30% by the year 2021.

Perhaps the rest of the country can jump on board and develop initiatives, like NSW Food Authority have, including a requirement for Food Safety Supervisor modules to focus on raw egg products and for these modules to be refreshed every 5 years.

Do you need to refresh your training? visit www.cft.com.au for more info.

To read the full article visit –

http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/newsletters/foodwise_issue_43_May_2017.pdf

 

 

 

Bad Bugs In Winter Food

Today marks the start of winter and Australians are being warned about the risks of food poisoning from winter foods like casseroles and soups.

Chair of the Food Safety Council, Rachelle Williams, said “although many people associate food poisoning with hot weather, Australians need to be wary of the dangers in cooking big winter meals like casseroles.”

“Cooking in bulk is cost effective, saves time and reduces food waste,” Williams said.

“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,” she said.

The Food Safety Council suggests dividing hot food into smaller portions and to refrigerate or freeze the food as soon as it stops steaming.

“Refrigerated leftovers should be used or frozen within 2 to 3 days,” says Williams.

“They will keep several months in the freezer. When reheating food ensure that it is hot all the way through, follow any microwave instructions to stir it or leave it to stand and use a thermometer to ensure it is at least 75°C in the centre,” she said.

The Council has also warned Australians using slow cookers to always follow instructions and make sure food is held at 60°C or above.

To minimize the risks of serving food poisoning to your customers you should ensure your food safety training is up to date.  Visit http://www.cft.com.au to enrol for your training.

 

image source: Google

Allergen labelling a life and death matter – reminder to food businesses

(The following article has been reproduced with permission of Food Standards Australia New Zealand).

Yesterday Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) announced a month-long campaign aimed at reminding food businesses about the need to get allergen labelling right.  

FSANZ Acting Chief Executive Officer Peter May said the campaign was timed to coincide with Australia’s Food Allergy Week (May 14‒20). 

“Food businesses in Australia and New Zealand need to be across the mandatory allergen labelling requirements in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code,” Mr May said. 

“Correct allergen labelling can mean the difference between life and death for people with food allergies so it is vital that food businesses meet labelling requirements.  

“There are currently nine foods which must be declared whenever they are present as ingredients or as components of food additives or processing aids. Lupins are expected to be added to the list this month. 

“If the food is not in a package or is not required to have a label (for example, food prepared at and sold from a takeaway shop), this information must either be displayed in connection with the food or provided to the purchaser if requested.” 

Mr May said FSANZ would be running a social media and media outreach campaign for one month to educate food businesses about the importance of allergen labelling.  

“FSANZ supports the important work of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and its New Zealand counterpart —Allergy New Zealand—in raising awareness about food allergies. Both these organisations also provide important input to allergen-related work undertaken by FSANZ.” 

More information  

Read about Food Allergy Week 

Information about allergen labelling  

Video – FSANZ CEO Mark Booth talks about mandatory allergen labelling 

New Food Labels for Australian Products

From 1 July 2018, a new food labeling scheme will be introduced to assist consumers choosing Australian products.  The labels will use a bar chart to show what percentage of the item was made locally.

Fruits and vegetables, nuts, spices, fish and meat will all require to display the labels.

Some products, including confectionery, snack foods, soft drinks, bottled water and tea and coffee, will be exempt from the changes.

Imported products will also be clearly identified.

 

“Customers can see whether the product was made in Australia, what proportion of the ingredients were Australian, and they can see that straight away when making their purchase decisions,” Martin Squire from the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science told 9NEWS.

“(It gives) a bit more influence for the people with the spending power to choose locally grown produce,” David Jochinke from the Victorian Farmers Federation said.

To read more visit:  http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/04/26/18/41/made-in-australia-food-labelling-shows-shoppers-detailed-origin-of-products

image: Google

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