Tuck into safe tucker this Australia Day

With Australia Day just 2 days away and our temperatures at extreme, the NSW Food Authority is urging people to keep an eye on the temperature of your food; keep hot food hot and cold food cold.

CEO of the NSW Food Authority Dr Lisa Szabo said temperature control is a key factor in reducing the risk of food poisoning especially when you’re cooking outdoors and enjoying the Aussie summer.

“Hot summer days and the traditional Australia Day BBQ are a perfect combination, however it’s also a perfect environment for bacteria to grow,” Dr Szabo said.

“There is typically a seasonal increase in Salmonella, one of the most common bacteria associated with food poisoning, during the warmer months.”

Food kept inside the danger zone of 5 to 60 degrees Celsius has an increased risk of bacterial growth, so it’s important to chill food below 5 degrees or heat it above 60.

Dr Szabo said cooking and eating outdoors does bring its own set of unique challenges but following some simple food safety rules can help reduce risk.

“I suggest that people begin by practicing the same level of hygiene at a BBQ or picnic as you would when cooking in your own kitchen at home and always start by thoroughly washing and drying your hands, if you don’t have access to soap and water then sanitising gel or wipes could be used as an alternative,” she said.

“Just like home it’s important to keep your preparation surfaces clean and being outside keep an extra vigilant eye out for pests like flies.”

The NSW Food Authority recommends that if you’re having a barbecue on 26 January, you follow a few simple tips for outdoor cooking and dining:

  • don’t eat cooked foods, or foods that should be refrigerated, that have been left out for more than two hours;
  • if you’re travelling, store uncooked and ready-to-eat foods in separate sealed containers and keep them cold during transport using a chiller bag or esky;
  • keep benches, equipment and tableware clean and dry;
  • some meats need to be cooked thoroughly, there should be no pink left in cooked meat like mince, sausages or chicken; and
  • use separate plates and utensils for cooking and serving.

For the NSW Food Authority’s full list of food safety tips for summer cooking and dining visit www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/summer

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Keep Your Kid’s Lunchbox Safe

The typical Australian summer sizzling heat and our kids are getting ready to return to school here are 5 simple lunchbox food safety tips, issued by the Food Safety Information Council:

  • When buying lunchboxes choose ones that have room for a frozen drink or freezer block and are easy to clean and dry.
  • Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before preparing food.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Make sure lunchbox foods are always well separated from other foods in the refrigerator, particularly raw meats, chicken and fish.
  • Keep the lunch cool in the fridge until you are about to leave home.

Food Safety Information Council Chair, Rachelle Williams advised ‘We need to transport food to school safely to ensure our kids don’t become one of the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year. Bacteria can grow quickly in some foods, like cooked poultry and other meats, dairy products and sandwich fillings, so it is important to keep their lunchbox cool.

‘At school your child’s lunchbox will stay cool until lunchtime if kept in their school bag with a frozen drink or freezer block inside the lunchbox,’ Ms Williams concluded.

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.

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