How to ace the school lunch safety test

Published by the NSW Food Authority

Coordinating the back to school rush can be trying at the best of times but there is help at hand when it comes to ensuring school lunch safety.

NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said the risk of food spoiling and food poisoning is a common concern of many parents, particularly in the warm months of the first school term.

“As temperatures rise so does the risk of food poisoning,” Dr Szabo said.

“We do tend to see a seasonal trend where the rate of Salmonella, one of the most common bacteria associated with food poisoning, increases in summer.

“The basic rule of thumb is to keep it cool for school in order to reduce that risk.

The best way to keep food safe and also to avoid food spoiling in a lunchbox is to keep it cool.

“Food safety is of particular importance for children because they can be susceptible to the more severe consequences of food poisoning,” Dr Szabo said.

The NSW Food Authority recommends the following:

  • cold foods should stay cold, invest in an ice block and insulated lunch box to keep foods cold until lunchtime
  • freeze water bottles or drinks and place them in the lunch pack. The water or drinks will thaw by lunchtime, but will still be cold and assist in keeping the lunch cold
  • some food is safe without a cold source; these include whole fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses, meat and fish in cans, bread, crackers and some spreads
  • ask children to keep packed lunches out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. A cool, dark place like a locker is better
  • if lunches are made the night before, keep them in the refrigerator overnight
  • if you are including dinner left overs as lunch the next day ensure the food is still fresh and has been stored correctly

“The other important thing to remember in going back to school is food allergies, whether it is your own child who suffers or playing your role in protecting other children who may have a food allergy,” Dr Szabo said.

“Most NSW schools and childcares have a nut free policy, because it is a high-risk allergen, but it is worth checking with your individual school about rules pertaining to foods containing allergens.”

Check out the school lunchbox page on the NSW Food Authority’s website for plenty of school lunch safety tips.

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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

Australians clueless about safe cooking temperatures – Use a thermometer for great food, cooked safely every time (10 November 2017)

This article was published by Food Safety Information Council for Food Safety Week, Nov 11-18 2017.

Here’s a brief snapshot –

Despite celebrity cooking shows being all the rage, the Food Safety Information Council released a national survey today for Australian Food Safety Week that shows that the majority of Australians surveyed have no idea of safe cooking temperatures for high-risk foods such as hamburgers, sausages and poultry.

Food Safety Information Council Chair, Rachelle Williams, said that the Council was amazed that 70% of those surveyed reported that they didn’t know the safe cooking temperature for these high-risk foods.

‘Even worse, of those that reported they did know the correct temperature, most were wrong with 15% saying below the safe temperature of 75°C and 9% stating it should be 100°C or more, which would be a pretty burnt piece of food.

Click the link to read more –

http://foodsafety.asn.au/australians-clueless-about-safe-cooking-temperatures-10-november-2017/

 

Aussies wasting nearly $10 billion of food each year

Australians are collectively wasting $9.6 billion on food each year according to new research released by RaboDirect.

In a survey of 2,300 people aged between 16 and 65, the RaboDirect Food & Farming Report shows that Australians are wasting an average of 14 per cent of their weekly grocery buy. In total, this equates to over $1050 each year.

The report reveals the habits which are contributing to food waste in Australia, including never eating food past its ‘best before’ date and not eating leftovers.

Why is food being wasted?

The leading cause of food waste according to 82 per cent of respondents is a product going off and becoming unusable before they can use it.

43 per cent of people stated they buy too much food, making this the second leading cause of food waste in Australia.

The results of the RaboDirect report show that food waste is still an issue in Australia, according to the Head of RaboDirect, Beden Cronin.

“Australians can make a few small changes to everyday habits, such as using leftovers for lunches through the week, which will help reduce food waste,” Cronin said.

Here’s the full article POSTED BY NICHOLAS NAKOS– http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2017/10/30/food-waste-in-australia-totals-nearly-10-billion-each-year-rabodirect-report.html

 

 

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

Cooling Potentially Hazardous Food

A common contributing factor to food poisoning in a food business is incorrect temperature zone. This is when food is held for too long at temperatures where harmful food poisoning bacteria can grow.

It is important that food businesses make sure cooked potentially hazardous food (PHF) has been cooled in accordance to Food Standards Code:

A food business must cool the food:
• within two hours – from 60°C
to 21°C, and
• within a further four hours –
from 21°C to 5°C.

Do you understand your responsibilities as a food business owner?  Don’t leave your customers and your business at risk!

 

 

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 

Chefs with International Qualifications

FAQ – If I have an overseas qualification as a chef, am I able to work as a Food Safety Supervisor in Australia?

Staff at CFT International are often asked this question.   Your employer may accept your international qualifications as a chef. However, you cannot be the food safety supervisor for the business unless you have a Statement of Attainment from an RTO in Australia for the food sector in which you are working or intend to work.

International chefs can obtain a Statement of Attainment from CFT International.  CFT International is an RTO offering training for Food Safety Supervisors online, in class and by correspondence.  To find out more visit our website http://www.cft.com.au.

Salmonella outbreak in Canberra closes two cafes

An outbreak of salmonella has forced two popular Canberra cafes to close their doors while they were investigated by health inspectors.

In a statement, HPS said health inspectors had uncovered problems “related with food handling processes and procedures” at both stores.

“The cafes will be closed until such time as the identified issues have been rectified,” the statement said.

The closure of the cafes for ‘serious food safety breaches’ and “risk to public health” is a scary reminder of the extreme importance of ensuring all food handlers are properly trained and aware of best safe food handling practises.
Click the link to read the articles about the closure of two cafes in Canberra.  If you haven’t updated your Food Safety Training don’t leave it too late!