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/

 

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

NSW Food Authority investigates Sydney Hep A outbreak

NSW Food Authority and NSW Health are investigating a hepatitis A outbreak in the Sydney region.

The investigation comes after 10 people have contracted hepatitis A within the area over the past five weeks. On average, there is only two locally acquired hepatitis A cases each year.

Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said NSW Health and the NSW Food Authority are assessing patterns of food distribution and any links to overseas outbreaks. She said no specific food has yet to be connected to the outbreak.

NSW Health said that when hepatitis A outbreaks occur in Australia they are either linked to the consumption of contaminated food products or person-to-person spread.

Hepatitis A is caused by a virus that spreads in contaminated food or through poor hygiene. Symptoms of hepatitis infection may include nausea, vomiting, fever and yellowing of the skin, dark urine and pale stools.

The risk of spreading hepatitis A can be reduced by washing hands thoroughly, particularly after going to the toilet, touching soiled linen or items, changing nappies and before preparing or eating food.

It is extremely vital to ensure that all staff working with food are well informed of their responsibilities when it comes to food hygiene.  Contact CFT for more information or visit CFT here

 

To read the full article posted by ANDREA HOGAN on 6th September 2017, click here

OUTDOOR DINING IS NOW SMOKE-FREE

From 1 August 2017, smoking at Victorian venues will be banned:

  • in outdoor areas at hospitality and food venues used for eating food. This includes footpath dining areas, courtyards and beer gardens during times food is being eaten, or is available to be eaten
  • in all outdoor areas at food fairs. A food fair is an event where the principal activity is the supply of food for consumption at the event
  • within 10 metres of a food stall or food vendor at organised outdoor event (other than a food fair).

To complement smoke-free outdoor dining, smoking is banned in an outdoor drinking area if any part of that area is within 4 metres of an outdoor dining area, unless separated by a wall of at least 2.1 metres high. This means the two areas can be separated by either:

  • a 4 metre buffer zone; or
  • a wall of at least 2.1 metres high.

If the separation requirement is not met, smoking is banned in an outdoor drinking area. This law applies to the same venue as well as to neighbouring venues.

For more information about these reforms and to obtain your “No Smoking” signage, please visit –

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/tobacco-reform/smoke-free-areas/outdoor-dining

Go vegetarian to lose weight says researchers

Vegetarian diets are almost twice as effective at helping you lose weight a study has found.

Published online by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers discovered those on a vegetarian diet lost weight more effectively than those just on a low-calorie diet.

After studying 74 individuals who all had type 2 diabetes, those who followed the vegetarian diet lost an average of 6.2 kilograms across the course of the study.

Those on the low-calorie, non-vegetarian diet only lost an average of 3.2 kilograms each.

Both diets required participants eat 500 kilocalories a day less than they normally would. The only animal product the vegetarian diet allowed for was one low-fat tub of yoghurt per day.

The study further found the vegetarian diet was more effective at reducing muscle fat and increasing metabolism.

Researcher, Dr Hana Kahleova, said this finding was particularly important for those with type 2 diabetes as an increase in metabolism could possibly equal an increase in glucose metabolism.

“Vegetarian diets proved to be the most effective diets for weight loss,” Dr Kahleova said.

“However, we also showed that a vegetarian diet is much more effective at reducing muscle fat, thus improving metabolism. This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes. But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy,” she said.

source: http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au

To read full article and links – http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2017/06/14/go-vegetarian-to-lose-weight-says-researchers.html

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 

Bad eggs likely cause of Vic outbreak

A bad batch of eggs is being blamed for a food poisoning outbreak at a Melbourne cafe that affected 25 customers.

The salmonella outbreak occurred at the Food Republic cafe in Blackburn on March 18 after the Department of Health and Human Services linked a number of sick people to the cafe.
DHHS spokesman Bram Alexander said the department could not confirm eggs were the culprit as swabs and food samples have since shown no traces of salmonella in the cafe.
“We are not ruling any food in or any food out” Mr Alexander told AAP.
Food Republic co-owner Vanessa Lekkas says she believes the cause of the food poisoning outbreak was from a “bad batch” of eggs they whipped into raw products such as mayonnaise.  

To read the full article click the link –

http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/bad-eggs-likely-cause-of-vic-outbreak/news-story/1bf9b90d93bc60776b3d1eb8abcb36b3