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


Watch out for Salmonella poisoning as temperatures rise

With sizzling temperatures soaring into the 40’s in NSW this week, NSW Health is warning people to be wary of Salmonella poisoning.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases NSW Health advises “Products containing undercooked eggs, and the spread of germs in the kitchen, are the most common source of salmonellosis outbreaks in NSW,”.

Salmonellosis is a type of gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella bacteria found in animals.

Careful preparation and storage of food is the best defence against salmonellosis, 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.

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.”

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.

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

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

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 –



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 –





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 –



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!

Tips for Reducing the Risk of Bad Bugs in your Food

A recent salmonella outbreak linked to prepackaged lettuce from a farm in Victoria has left 62 people sick, with worries more might be coming forward.

There are reports the outbreak might also be linked to illness in Queensland and South Australia. Authorities across the country have recalled products with best before dates leading up to and including 14 February.

How can we help to protect ourselves ? –
Using whole, unprocessed vegetables and washing them thoroughly will reduce the risk of poisoning.

Good food handling practises will too. These include washing and drying hands thoroughly before food preparation, appropriate storage of foods, and separation of raw foods (particularly meat) from foods that have already been cooked or don’t require cooking.

Consumers may choose to rewash bagged leaves.

Here is the link to read more –

Photograph Joern Pollex/Getty Images.

Foodborne illness declines in Australia

Foodborne illness declines in Australia

By Joe Whitworth+, 23-Oct-2014

Foodborne illness has declined 17% overall in Australia but the number of Salmonella and Campylobacter cases has risen.

Click the link below to read more from http://www.foodqualitynews.com


Food safety experts warn home cooks not to wash raw chicken

The Food Safety Information Council today released worrying national survey data that shows 60% of home cooks in Australia are putting themselves at additional risk of food poisoning by washing whole poultry before it is cooked which spreads bacteria around the kitchen. A further 16% of those surveyed incorrectly tasted chicken to see if it is cooked properly rather than use a safe and accurate meat thermometer.

Chicken is a healthy, convenient meal and is Australia’s most popular meat with over 8 out of every 10 cooks choosing chicken. Other poultry is also becoming popular with just under half of those surveyed cooking whole turkey and 37% whole duck but these, too, are being washed before cooking, with 68% washing turkey and 74% duck. Dr Eyles says.

“According to a Food Standards Australia New Zealand survey 84% of raw chicken carcasses tested positive to the food poisoning bacteria Campylobacter and 22% to Salmonella. This is similar to the findings of other surveys overseas. Notified cases of illness from Campylobacter and Salmonella in Australia have almost doubled over the last 20 years. OzFoodnet estimates there are approximately 220,000 cases of Campylobacter infection each year with more than 75% transmitted by food and 50,000 cases of Campylobacter infection each year can be attributed either directly or indirectly to chicken meat.

”Home cooks are probably following what their parents or grandparents did in the past by washing poultry, not to mention probably patting it dry with a tea towel. Washing poultry splashes these bacteria around the kitchen cross contaminating sinks, taps, your hands, utensils, chopping boards and foods that aren’t going to be cooked like salads or desserts.

“Cooking poultry right through kills these bacteria, making it safe. However, 16% of those surveyed, rather than using a meat thermometer or checking if juices run clear and are no longer pink, say they eat some chicken to see if tastes cooked, with males significantly more likely to do this than females,’ Dr Eyles concludes.

The theme of Australian Food Safety Week for 2012 is cross contamination. You can reduce the risk of cross contamination from raw poultry by following these simple tips:

  • Do not wash raw poultry before cooking as this will spread any bacteria throughout your kitchen. You can mop up any excess moisture with paper towel.
  • Always wash and dry hands and clean surfaces after contact with raw poultry.
  • Defrost poultry in the fridge or microwave in a container which prevents juices dripping on other food.
  • Make sure the raw poultry juices do not contaminate other food, especially food like desserts or salads that won’t be cooked again.
  • Always use clean plates and utensils and wash and dry thoroughly between using for raw and cooked poultry. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw poultry.
  • Also cook any poultry meat to 74°C using a meat thermometer in the thickest part or until the juices run clear and are no longer pink. Make sure frozen poultry is defrosted right through to the centre before cooking.

Here are some other tips about reducing your risk of food poisoning through cross contamination:

  • When shopping, ensure raw meat, poultry, and seafood are in plastic bags and kept apart from other foods in your super market trolley, at check out and in your shopping bags.
  • Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags in the fridge to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. Raw juices often contain harmful bacteria.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible.
  • Wash and dry hands and surfaces often. Harmful bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and counter tops.
  • Wash hands with soap and hot water and dry thoroughly before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing babies, or handling pets.
  • Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. Wash cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, and counter tops with hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.
  • Always use a clean and dry cutting board and, if possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, you should replace them.
  • Marinade used on raw meat, poultry, or seafood should not be used on cooked foods, unless it is boiled just before using.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime. Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetables, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board.


Food Safety Information Council

Food poisoning results, on average, in 5.4 million cases a year including 120 deaths, 1.2 million visits to doctors, 300,000 prescriptions for antibiotics, and 2.1 million days of lost work each year. The estimated annual cost of food poisoning in Australia is $1.25 billion.

Know Your Enemy: Salmonella

Salmonella is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness.

It is estimated that 1.4 million cases of Salmonella infection occur each year in the United States alone with a cost of $3 billion (US dollars)(1).

Although Salmonella can survive on virtually any food or water source, humans typically contract infection from contaminated food of animal origin (meat, eggs and dairy).

There are over 2500 different Salmonella types with Typhimurium and Enteriditis representing the most common culprits of food poisoning. Salmonella Enteriditis contributes to a large percent of human cases of infection due to its ability to infect hen ovarian tissue. As a result, chicken eggs become contaminated with the pathogen. Grade A eggs are associated with 77 to 82% of human cases of Salmonella (2).
As such, reducing the occurrence of Salmonella in poultry flocks is directly linked to a decreased risk for human illness. Interestingly, studies have shown that the risk for human illness is strongly influenced by animal product storage time and temperature rather than the number of bacteria initially found in the product (2).
Unlike its cousin bacteria E. coli that lives on the periphery of host cells, Salmonella is able to invade and survive inside these cells. The walls of our intestinal tract are lined with a specialized type of cell called an epithelial cell. Salmonella assemble large needle-like machines that they use to inject their own proteins directly into epithelial cells. These proteins ultimately function to induce the epithelial cell to engulf the bacteria. Once inside the cell, survival becomes a balancing act, weighing the strength of the host immune defences against bacterial counteracting strategies (3).
Symptoms of disease including fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal pain usually begin 12 to 72 hours after infection. The infectious dose (number of bacteria required to cause disease) for Salmonella is between 1,000 and 100,000. Symptoms typically last only 4 days (1).
The symptoms we associate with food poisoning are often caused by our own immune system. Vomiting and diarrhoea are our body’s way of trying to literally flush out the bacteria. This strategy is a double-edged sword since release of the bacteria back into the environment can be advantageous as it allows them to infect new hosts. Salmonella can induce diarrhoea by disrupting the junctions that hold epithelial cells together. This disrupts the epithelial cell layer leading to uncontrolled passage of water into the intestinal track (3). Our body also induces inflammation to help reduce the spread of infection and recruit cells of our immune system to kill the pathogen. Although less common in developed nations, some Salmonella types can even survive and grow inside these recruited immune cells, allowing for their passage through the blood stream and growth in organs such as the spleen and liver. This systemic infection, more commonly known as Typhoid fever, can be fatal if left untreated.
Healthy adults are typically capable of overcoming a Salmonella infection without the need for medical treatment. Children, elderly and immuno-compromised patients are more likely to become seriously ill. Adults requiring drug treatment typically receive a type of antibiotic called fluoroquinolones. These drugs are not generally recommended for children who instead receive cephalosporin antibiotics. The ability to treat Salmonella infections has become increasingly difficult owing to the emergence of resistance to these commonly used antibiotics.
1)  World Health Organization. 2011. http://www.who.int/topics/salmonella/en/
2) World Health Organization. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Risk Assessments of Salmonella in eggs and broiler chickens. 2002. Microbiological Risk Assessment Series 1.
3) Haraga, A., and Miller, S.. Salmonellae interplay with host cells. Nature Reviews Microbiology. 2008. 6:53.
Suzanne E. Osborne is funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) and is a recipient of the prestigious Canadian Vanier Scholarship working at the Institute for Infectious Disease Research, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.