Archive for the 'food poisoning' Category

Australian Food Safety Specialist Gavin Buckett Interviewed On Channel Nine Show “Mornings.”

Food-safety-expert-Gavin-Bucket-interview-on-Mornings-Show-b

If you own a food establishment, then watch out!

Council food inspectors could be soon knocking on your doors to check whether your food business complies with Australian food safety standards and regulations.

Recently, our Founder and Managing Director Mr Gavin Buckett was interviewed on the “Mornings” show on Channel 9 about the standards for food safety in Australia. Of course, what was talked about wasn’t entertaining, especially for the 445 ‘sloppy businesses’ in Brisbane that paid fines totalling $579,700, for the lack of sufficient food safety standards, but the purpose of the story was to focus on ways that customers can spot the safe places to eat.

You can watch the interview as TV presenters Sonia Kruger and David Campbell have turned food safety into a small, focused debate that will open your eyes to what customers should look out for the next time they dine out at your restaurant.

You can watch the video interview by clicking the image below:

Food-safety-expert-Gavin-Bucket-interview-on-Mornings-Show

Gavin Buckett’s advice for diners:

A lot of kitchens are open plan so you can see the staff, and where food is being prepared. You can see what they’re doing, the uniforms they’re wearing, and even if they’re washing their hands. Always take a look at the environment the food is being prepared in.

Advice for food businesses and restaurants:

Don’t gamble with food safety! At The Gourmet Guardian we work confidentially and cost-effectively with food businesses to:

• Reduce potential food safety dangers you might not know about

• Prevent dangerous outbreaks

• Uncover hidden issues that might be just as problematic and costly.

We can also help empower your employees with fun and engaging food safety training through our RTO Prime Skills website: Click here to make sure your business is Food Safety compliant.

As the Brisbane Council says: “Clean up or close up.”

When it comes to food and the health of your patrons, there is no room for shortcuts.

 

Back to School Food Safety Tips

“IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT” 

Young boy holding packed lunch in living room smiling

You must make a concerted effort to make sure your kid’s school lunches are kept out of the temperature danger zone.

Everyday we put our own and families health at risk without even thinking of the consequences involved, it is estimated there are 5.4 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year. It is so easy to take simple and quick steps to ensure the safety of yourself and more importantly your family on a daily basis.

Perishable food becomes unsafe to eat if the total time in the temperature danger zone (5° C – 60° C) is greater than 4 hours, to put this in perspective; this is about the time between leaving home and lunchtime!

Those packing lunches for children need to understand how vulnerable young ones can be and that food poisoning can have horrific long-term consequences including reactive arthritis.

Below are some precautions you can take to ensure your kid’s lunches stay risk free:

  • Ensure you prepare food with well-washed hands and utensils
  • Educate your kids to wash their hands before eating lunch.
  • Lunch boxes and reusable drink bottles must be thoroughly washed and dried daily.
  • If cracked, split or crazed, replace, as bugs will grow in any cracks.
  • Avoid risky foods such as soft cheeses, sprouts, pate, etc.
  • Children’s lunchboxes kept inside the school bag will keep cooler longer especially if the bag is kept away from heat sources such as direct sunlight.
  • Pack frozen or chilled drinks in with food items to help keep the temperature down.

Food poisoning results, on average, in 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.

If your child has food poisoning don’t let them go to school, and ensure they avoid handling food for others until 48 hours after symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea has stopped.

If your child’s food poisoning symptoms persist, please consult your doctor. 

For further information:

Food Safety Information Council

 

Back to Work Food Safety Tips

“BEFRIENDING THE OWNERLESS WORKPLACE FRIDGE”

woman-work-lunchYou must make a concerted effort to make sure your family’s lunches and your own work lunches are kept out of the temperature danger zone.

Everyday we put our own and families health at risk without even thinking of the consequences involved, it is estimated there are 5.4 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year. It is so easy to take simple and quick steps to ensure the safety of yourself and more importantly your family on a daily basis.

Perishable food becomes unsafe to eat if the total time in the temperature danger zone (5° C – 60° C) is greater than 4 hours, to put this in perspective; this is about the time between leaving home and lunchtime!

Packing a lunch to take to work is a healthy and cost effective option, but leaving that lunch out of the workplace fridge or not in a cooler if you work outside can lead to food poisoning bacteria growing quickly during hot weather. Bacteria especially like to grow in the healthier foods, such as premade salads and cold meats. It only takes a few minutes to make a quick detour to the fridge when you first step into the office, a choice that can decide your health’s fate.

So step up and rather than avoid it, make friends with that fridge at work that no one seems to own. Make sure it is clean and not packed with ageing food. Put in a fridge thermometer and check it is running at 5° C or below.

Begin the working year by everyone getting together to clean out the fridge and giving it at least one owner – a person responsible for setting up a workplace roster for keeping fridges and kitchens clean. Pens and labels should be available for people to label containers with name and date.

Below are some more precautions you can take to ensure your lunch stays risk free:

  • Ensure you prepare food with well-washed hands and utensils
  • Wash your hands before eating lunch
  • Lunch boxes and reusable drink bottles must be thoroughly washed and dried daily
  • Avoid risky foods in hot weather such as soft cheeses, sprouts, pate, etc.
  • Put food in the fridge as soon as you arrive at work
  • Pack frozen or chilled drinks in with food items to help keep the temperature down
  • Use refrigerated leftovers within 3 days – if in doubt, throw it out! 

Employers can assist by making refrigerators and coolers are available and in good order. Hand washing soap and drying facilities should be made available in kitchens and hand washing posters put up or awareness made by Food Hygiene Courses undertaken. This could lead to a reduction in sick leave, not just from food poisoning but also viruses such as norovirus and influenza, which are currently taking a toll in the Northern Hemisphere.

Food poisoning results, on average, in 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.

If you have food poisoning, don’t go to work and avoid handling food for others until 48 hours after symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea stop.

If food poisoning symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

For further information:

Food Safety Information Council 

WHY do consumers ignore vital Food Safety labels?

Food poisoning, on average result in 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. A cause contributing to these totals is the increasing risk consumers are taking by ignoring vital information given on Food Safety labels, endangering themselves and their families.

A national Newspoll Survey, commissioned by the Food Safety Information Council for Australian Food Safety Week, shows too few Australian adults are taking notice of vital food safety advice on food labels and, with summer ahead, are taking risks by not using insulated bags or coolers to transport refrigerated food.

Dr Michael Eyles, Council Chair, says it is disturbing to find only just over half (55%) of those surveyed always read and comply with ‘use by’ dates and less than half (45%) always read and comply with ‘best before’ dates.

“Frightening is not too strong a word to describe other results, including that only a third (33%) of people always read and comply with storage instructions and a meager 14% always read and comply with cooking instructions,” Dr Eyles elaborated.

“Consumers are obviously not taking advantage of the wealth of readily available information on labels which are intended to make our food safer and shopping decisions easier. For example ask yourself ‘Will I eat all of this by the ‘use by’ date?’; ‘Do I have room in the fridge/freezer?’; ‘Do I really want to cook this for that long’

“When shopping, choose products you know you will consume or freeze within the ‘use by’ time. Never buy products after the ‘use by’ date. In fact it’s illegal to sell such food due to the risk of food poisoning.

“Food past the ’best before’ date is legal to sell and is often on special as this date refers to quality not safety − the biscuits may have lost their crunch, but won’t cause food poisoning.

“Storage instructions have a significant influence on the safety of perishable food, and can negate ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates as these depend on food being refrigerated or otherwise stored properly. ‘Refrigerate after opening’, ‘keep frozen’ or ‘refrigerate under 4°C’ must be followed or food poisoning bacteria will grow quickly.

“Don’t rely on how you stored food in the past. Products change with food trends, and many are now lower in salt and sugar than in the past. Food manufacturers know the recipe, the manufacturing process, and other details that indicate how long a product will last and how to store and cook it safely. “Read the advice on the label and you may find that the products you used to keep open in the cupboard now need to be refrigerated.”

Eyles says despite cooking instructions being hugely important “an astounding 86% of those surveyed didn’t always read and comply with these instructions which is far too high and creates a serious food poisoning risk, especially for poultry, minced or cubed meats, or egg products.

“Following the manufacturer’s advice on temperature, cooking time, stirring and resting time is essential to ensure the food is safely cooked through and delicious,” he says.

On an optimistic note, the Council’s Newspoll survey did show that more than 8 in 10 (83%) people say the last time they bought refrigerated food it took less than 30 minutes to get the food from the store to the home fridge with nearly everyone else getting the food home in under an hour.

“This was a great result, and with the hot weather now for most of the country the 3 in 10 survey respondents (25% in capital cities versus 37% in regional Australia) saying they used an insulated bag or cooler to take food home are the smart ones, and hopefully others will follow their lead.

“Refrigerated food can warm quickly into the temperature danger zone (5°-65°C) where food poisoning bacteria can grow − this is especially risky for foods that won’t be cooked again such as sliced deli meats, pate, prepared salads, cut fruits and soft cheeses.

“Also, pick up refrigerated and frozen food last when shopping and always take an insulated bag or cooler with you to the shops,” Dr Eyles concluded.

This information has been reproduced in with permission of Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

For more information visit:

Or contact:

Juliana Madden: 0407 626 688

Executive Officer

Increase in Food Poisoning linked to reusable “green bags”

Unwashed 'green bags' have been linked to food poisoning by studies overseas. Photo: Wayne Taylor

The Canberra Times is reporting that counties in the USA that have imposed plastic bag bans on supermarkets have also had higher rates of food poisoning and subsequent deaths.

The Canberra Times article was titled “Study links plastic bag ban with increase in food-related deaths” and is available online, and references the research from the Social Science Research Network website. The referenced article is titled “Grocery Bag Bans and Foodborne Illness”

Both references can be accessed by clicking on the links above.

The Canberra Times article indicated:


One study conducted in California and Arizona found most shoppers did not use separate bags for meat and vegetables, did not wash reusable grocery bags, and often stored them in car boots, resulting in the growth of bacteria.

“If individuals fail to clean their reusable bags, these bacteria may lead to contamination of the food transported in the bags. Such contamination has the potential to lead to health problems and even death,” the paper states.

Focussing on a plastic bag ban introduced in San Francisco in 2007, the paper then compares the instances of emergency hospital admissions and deaths for food-related illness across counties with and without plastic bag bans, as well as across time periods before and after bans are introduced.

“We find that both deaths and ER visits spiked as soon as the ban went into effect,” the paper concludes.

In short, the article was referencing the importance of washing ALL food contact surfaces that are reused.

There are also some bacterias that are environmental so even if the produce you have purchased is in a bag it may not be protected…..

To protect consumers, the Food Standards Code has specific references in Standard 3.2.2 that relate to Single Use Items to prevent potential contamination.

Environmental studies have also found that the traditional cloth “green” environmental bags need to be used almost 200 times to have a lower impact on the environment. (as shown above in the photo by Wayne Taylor)

Maxpak Australasia, a HACCP Certified food grade packaging supplier have a great range of single use biodegradable bags that are great for the environment AND as a single use item, great for managing the safety of the foods you serve.

Sydney Morning Herald article on NSW “Name and Shame” website

On the 5th April 2013 our Founder and Managing Director Mr Gavin Buckett was interviewed for an article in the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Sunday newspaper the Sun Herald.

The article was on the NSW Food Authority Name and Shame website and indicated the number of businesses that had appeared on the site, including references to the businesses that had appeared on multiple times.

The article appeared on the Sun Herald front page and and then continued on Sun Herald Pages 8 and 9 with a double page spread.

We have attached the pages for your reference via the links above.

Let’s hope that there is a follow up article on the positive aspects of the NSW Food Authority “Scores on Doors” system as well as those businesses that choose to be HACCP Certified.

“2 Star Michelin Restaurant Sickens 63 customers”

Food poisoning can happen to anyone!

In Denmark, a world renowned 2 star Michelin Restaurant caused food poisoning for 63 people.

As recently reported by the ABC news Danish Food Safety officials ordered a cleanup and better food handling at Noma, one of the world’s top restaurants with menu costs up to 1,500 korner ($260) and where table reservations often must be made months in advance.

The clean up was ordered after more than 60 people fell ill with viral gastroenteritis from eating at the two-star Michelin eatery that has also hit top spot three times in the world’s best restaurants list in Restaurant magazine, highlighting how important Food Safety is no matter how profound you’re in the restaurant world.

The 63 infected people ate at Noma between Feb 12 and 16, according to a food safety report based on an inspection of local restaurants and food retail companies a week later. Restaurant manager Peter Kreiner apologized for the incidents and said they were trying to track the source of the infection with officials.

Noma, which opened in 2004, is widely known for its chef Rene Redzepi who relies on fresh, locally sourced products, from moss and snails to sloe berries and unripe plums. The restaurant has been credited with redefining Nordic cooking and receives thousands of reservation requests every day.

This article puts into view just how easy it is for the unexpected and unthinkable to happen. Could this happen to you and your business? Are you implementing all of the safe food handling practices needed to ensure the only way your business will end up in the news is for good reasons?

The original online news article for this food poisoning outbreak

Disinfectants And Sanitisers: What’s the diff?

Disinfectants(1)When setting out to clean the kitchen, many people grab the closest cleaning agent without understanding the difference between disinfectants and sanitisers or knowing which one is used for the mess that needs to be wiped up.

The difference between the two is easiest enough to understand but sometimes tricky to remember. To help distinguish the two, just remember to keep it simple: Disinfectants STOP bacteria and sanitisers SLOW down bacteria.

The scientific reason behind the difference of disinfectants and sanitisers is the dilution. Disinfectants must have higher capability for killing pathogenic bacteria compared to that of a sanitiser.  According to EPA requirements a disinfectant must kill 99.99% or more of specified bacteria whereas sanitisers must kill at least 99.99% of three specified bacteria within a specified time period.

Disinfectants stop the growth of microorganisms (bacteria such as fungi, bacteria and viruses) on non-living surfaces in its place. The most powerful factor of disinfectants is the fact that it can actually kill these microorganisms when used properly and effectively! Because disinfectants are chemical agents that killing bacteria and also slow their return down, it’s best used for cleaning kitchen surfaces that meat, fish, poultry and eggs have been prepared on.

Sanitisers reduce the amount of microorganisms to a safe level but cannot kill them since they don’t contain that killer chemical agent that disinfectant does. This doesn’t mean that sanitisers aren’t effective or a great cleaning agent; instead, it’s better used for regular kitchen surfaces around the kitchen that raw poultry or other food-poisoning bacteria haven’t been exposed to.

In order to get the maximum effect out of sanitisers, it’s extremely important to first scrub down the surface with regular soap and hot water, dish detergents, ammonia-based cleaners and all-purpose cleaners.

Popular Types Of Disinfectants

Alcohol – Alcohol solutions are a base ingredient for many other disinfectants and great for disinfecting skin and decontaminating surfaces.  Alcohol is an excellent pathogen destroyer but it must be left in contact with surfaces for atdesinf2004eng least 20 minutes to be effective.

Aldehydes – All forms of aldehydes have different ways of working to disinfect surface areas as well as a wide range of germicidal activity that can be highly toxic to humans and animals.  It should only be used as a last resort and in a well ventilated area.

Ammonia – Ammonia is one of the most effective and fast working disinfecting products out there but can be extremely dangerous to the skin and the respiratory tract. This should NEVER be mixed with bleach since it will produce toxic fumes and can cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries.

Chlorhexidine – Because this agent isn’t irritating to skin, it’s a popular kitchen cleaner and is used for general surfaces and also commonly used for cleaning skin wounds.

Chlorine – Also known as bleach, chlorine is harsh but very effective. If used in an environment that is too hot, bleach can create toxic fumes, much like ammonia. In order to bleach kitchen surfaces in the safest and most effective way, make sure the temperature remains at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Popular Types Of Sanitisers

IodophorAcidic iodine-based sanitisers have a universal killing effect on all types of microbes but since the amount of active ingredients to achieve the same killing power as a disinfectant is lower in iodophors, the killing time is reduced.

Hypochlorites – At regular levels, hypochorites aren’t poisonous to the human body, yet, contain powerful germicides that can control a wide range of microbes. The downside is that it does contain a short shelf-life and can be corrosive on some metals or give off chlorine gas when mixed with acids.

litchen-cleaning-kleanway-550x300There are some multi-purpose cleaners now available that work as a sanitiser to slow bacteria down if left on the surface for a short period of time and then a bacteria-killing disinfectant if left on the surface for an extended amount of time. Regardless, always remember to first check your label to distinguish the two and read the directions for proper usage!

Now that you understand the difference between using disinfectants and sanitisers when cleaning a kitchen, grab that bottle of cleaner and scrub away to keep kitchens sparkly and everyone healthy!

Kitchen Bacteria

salmonella-bacteria-food-largeWhen people get a bacterial infection, antibiotics are used to kill harmful bacteria that are safe to the human body. For other bacteria found within food or contaminated surfaces and utensils, different methods, such as heat, UV radiation and chemicals are used to effectively control bacteria.

Methods used to kill bacteria and control it from spreading is known as microbial control which consists of three general categories:

  • Physical – heat, freeze-drying, ultraviolet radiation and filtration
  • Chemical – chemical agents like disinfectants Lysol or Clorox, destroy most vegetative cells
  • Chemotherapeutic – antibiotics used to treat patients diagnosed with an infectious disease

The most commonly known bacteria often found in the kitchen is called Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria are found inseparate158 raw meat, especially raw poultry eggs, unprocessed milk and surprisingly, chocolate! If consumed, these bacteria can cause many not-so-good sicknesses, otherwise known as, food borne illnesses. With over 2,000 different strains of Salmonella, all forms can result in unpleasant to serious symptoms of food poisoning if it’s not prevented beforehand.

Cutting down on the amount of Salmonella poisoning that enters the kitchen or gets spread across the countertops can be easily managed just by following a few simple steps:

  • Cook raw meat thoroughly to the proper temperature
  • Properly refrigerate and freeze food
  • Always thaw food in the refrigerator and never leave sitting out at room temperature
  • Separate raw meat and fish to keep them from touching each other or other food when shopping and storing
  • Keep cutting boards for raw meat and other food separate and stored in a different location so that you don’t mix up the cutting boards
  • Wash hands, utensils and kitchen surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water as soon as you’re finished touching raw meat to prevent bacteria from spreading

Having a clean kitchen is extremely important, whether it’s in the home or in a fine dining restaurant, it’s inevitable that raw meat will end up on kitchen counters, sinks and storage areas before getting cooked. Because of this, the safest and most effective methods of cleaning are needed to keep these kitchens cooking!

Disinfectants are one of the most popular AND most important chemicals used in kitchens because of the compound it Chef Cleaning Countercontains that destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria. When disinfectants are applied to countertops, sinks, trashcans or other areas, its chemical reactions completely wipe out those little microbes.

Sterilisation is obviously the best way to sanitise anything but when talking about ingesting food, disinfectant is less extreme and much less likely to endanger people, pets and plants when applied the right way.

Different disinfectants do work differently than each other with some holding the potential to kill bacteria and others, to simply stunt its growth. That’s why it’s extremely important to know which type of disinfectant you’re buying before bringing it into your kitchen

While there are several types of these disinfectants out on the market, there are two basic types that most people are familiar with: Typical disinfectant and inhibitors. The difference between these two types is that your typical disinfectant stops the growth of bacteria by killing them and your inhibitors only prevent bacteria growth.

Much like taking antibiotics for too long can become ineffective to your immune system, disinfectants can also become less effective after prolonged use. Sometimes, a few bacteria escape the cleaning process and produce new populations resistant to the specific disinfectant.

cleaning-kitchenThese little fugitives can then develop altered genetic structure that allows it to survive additional antibiotic treatments which delves into a whole deal of science that only specialised scientists can fully understand!

The bottom line is, know your kitchen disinfectants and even more importantly, know how to use them because this will make ALL of the difference between delicious, healthy food and sickening, food poisoned food!

Microbes they might kill you – Video

Today’s blog post is a follow-up to the Will Smith Food Safety Parody we published recently.

It’s a two-song medley: “Microbes, They Might Kill You” and “We Are the Microbes”, a parody of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” as performed by Carl Winter.

The animations were produced at New Mexico State University as part of USDA CSREES National Integrated Food Safety Initiative Project Number CD-D-FST-7057-CG.

The message is both valuable and entertaining – enjoy!

The Gourmet Guardian is committed to reducing Food Poisoning any which way it can. Food Poisoning statistics are alarming, every little bit we can do helps!