Archive for the 'Food Safety News' Category

FSANZ warns against consuming raw apricot kernels.

On the 4th November 2011 Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the Government body responsible for Food Safety guidelines and legislation issued warnings against consuming raw apricot kernels. The raw kernels are often used as a cancer treatment or preventative cancer supplement.

The following information has been reproduced with permission of FSANZ:

“Food Standards Australia New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Steve McCutcheon today warned consumers against eating raw apricot kernels following the discovery of high levels of a naturally occurring toxin in some products available in Australia.

There are different types of apricot kernels, some of which contain high levels of the toxin that can release cyanide into the body when eaten. Adults eating as few as four of these kernels a day could become very ill – children should not eat any.

Testing of a number of raw apricot kernels by state and territory health authorities found they contained high levels of the toxin that can release hydrocyanic acid, a cyanide compound, in the gut. These products are currently being investigated and a recall is occurring. The products have been sold nationally on-line and at some health food stores.

While some raw apricot kernels are promoted as an alternative therapy for cancer treatment, the Cancer Council of Australia has published a position statement that cautions consumers about using alternative therapies, including laetrile (apricot kernels).

If you have recently purchased the recalled raw apricot kernels you are advised not to eat them. Return the product to point of sale for a refund or dispose of it safely out of the reach of children and pets. More information (including individual state health authorities) about this recall is available on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.

Anyone who has eaten these products and is concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

Apricot Kernels are also sometimes used to assist jams to thicken, however FSANZ has indicated that fresh and dried apricots, apricot juice and jam are not affected.

Cost of food for a week – A Global Perspective

The analysis of the cost of weekly food for families shows the wide contrast in the world we live in today. If you click on the hyperlink or photo, you’ll be taken to a blog post that summarises the variety from all 4 corners of the world. I’m sure you’ll agree that Australians have it pretty good!

The cost of food for a week - Darfur Province, Sudan

The cost of food for a week - Darfur Province, Sudan

Food Safety Audit Update

In my previous post, I sent you information on the new audit guidelines for Vulnerable Persons (VP) in NSW.

At the session, John Fallon from the New South Wales Food Authority (NSWFA) explained that there are only 22 approved external third party auditors in NSW.

He provided an enforcement update on all VP audits that have been conducted (by NSWFA employed auditors and external third party auditors).

He indicated that the top TWO problems encountered during audits were:

  • Ineffective monitoring records
  • Not complying with there food safety program

#1 Non Conformance: “Ineffective” Monitoring records

This included:

  • Not having records in place
  • Missing records or records not available
  • Completed records not identifying issues (i.e. Temperatures recorded outside critical limits)
  • No recorded corrective action when problems were identified
  • Supervisor signing off on incomplete or incorrect records

It is stated in the VP Guidelines that IT IS a requirement for someone to check all completed records. Even though it is not a requirement for records to be signed, we certainly recommend this practice to our clients.

We have a client who purchased from a newsagent, an “APPROVED” stamp and the person doing the checking stamps the monitoring record and signs above where it was stamped. I think this is a simple and effective means of verifying your records. You still need to make sure that the person who does the “approving” actually checks that the record has been completed correctly.

#2 Non Conformance: “Not complying with their food safety program”

Remember a couple of days ago I told you that your program should:

“Say as you do” and you should “Do as you say”.

Consistent areas where Corrective Action Requests (CARs) were raised included:

  • Labeling techniques used
  • Content of an internal audit – The internal audit process did not include a review of their food safety program. (Note: The findings of the internal audit should reflect what is found at an external audit)
  • Good manufacturing practices
  • Allergen management

The NSWFA will continue to monitor ALL Vulnerable Persons facilities (including businesses with Third Party Auditor (TPA) approval) and the Proprietor of the facility is responsible for ensuring that an audit is organised.

All VP audits conducted in NSW are reported electronically to the NSWFA. Every month, the NSWFA runs a report on facilities that are overdue for an audit. The following process is applied:

  • If overdue by 3 months they will be sent a “reminder letter”
  • If overdue by 6 months they will be sent a “warning letter”
  • Failure to comply will result in a $1320 penalty for corporations
    and $660 for individuals.

All scheduled audits must be conducted within the allocated 6 or 12 month period.

Your license cannot be renewed if there are any outstanding audits that have not been conducted.

New Vulnerable Persons Guidelines Announced by NSWFA

On Thursday 9th June 2011, I attended a one day workshop at the New South Wales Food Authority (NSWFA) for all food safety auditors in NSW. While the event was beneficial for all attendees, it was disappointing to realise that less than half of the 22 approved auditors in NSW bothered to attend.

Whenever possible, I attend the meetings the different state regulators have for auditors and I am attending another one in September for Victorian auditors.

Joanne Bulle is a recent addition to The Gourmet Guardian team and she also travelled from Albury to Sydney for the one day meeting.

These meetings are an important forum for the regulator (in this case the NSWFA) to update auditors on resources, requirements, changes in legislation and also to provide an outlet to discuss any problems or concerns auditors may have and to seek clarification on them.

This meeting was no exception. There are two very important changes that have been made by the NSWFA.

The first is they have updated the audit checklist that all auditors are required to complete and the second is that they have revised the guidelines for businesses serving food to Vulnerable Persons Businesses (VP). The audit checklist was updated to match the guidelines.

If you are a VP business, I feel it is vital, if you have not already done so, to download and print these guidelines to ensure you are complying with them.

http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/industry_pdf/guidelines_vp_2011.pdf Click Here To Download The Vulnerable Persons Business Guidelines

Your next audit will be made using these guidelines and you will be expected to comply with them. Continue reading ‘New Vulnerable Persons Guidelines Announced by NSWFA’

2UE Interview On Dirty Chinese Restaurants.

Gavin Buckett was interviewed on Sydney’s 2UE 954 Talk Back Radio yesterday. Click on the hyperlink to listen to the 5 minute interview that discusses the NSW Food Authority Name and Shame register and Chinese restaurants that seem to occupy most of the top of the list.

GOURMET GUARDIAN
2UE INTERVIEW David Oldfield


CLICK ON IMAGE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
(Full Transcript Below)

2UE Footer

Click on the image to listen to the interview right now

Eating out is a bit of a common place thing of course in the 21st century but also a long time before that.  The news is that the New South Wales Food & Safety Authority have named and shamed a whole series of restaurants and Chinese cuisine has predominantly hit the top of the list.  So is it a question that the cuisine you choose may determine your chances of getting sick or is it just that we’ve got more Chinese restaurants than anything else?  How does it work out?

Gavin thanks for joining me.

Thank you very much David.

Gavin Buckett is an Australian food safety specialist.  Gavin is it just simply a matter of there being more Chinese food restaurants than anything else?

I think that that may be a possibility.  I know looking back to my childhood that most of the multicultural food that we had sort of 20 or 30 years ago was Chinese and I also remember that every single suburb had a Chinese restaurant on most corners.

And of course the clubs, you’d go into the RSL or something and they would have a Chinese restaurant.

Yes, and I know that there’s a lot more cuisines, like Thai and the Vietnamese, around now but I think it would be important to take a look at the number of Chinese restaurants as opposed to the number of different cuisines as well.

It would be a good idea wouldn’t it if they actually did that rather than doing it on just raw numbers; apply it proportionately based on numbers of restaurants.  In fact the Chinese may come in better under the ties with some of the others.

Possibly, yes.

Certainly there are very, very large numbers of them.  Are there hygiene issues behind some of these cultural methods that pertain to food safety; I mean we always see stories about how certain cultures do things, for example they use one hand to go to the toilet and one hand to eat their food and you know there are issues of cross contamination because it seems that maybe things aren’t all that clean.  Are there elements of that in anything we might see in restaurants?

Look I’ve seen some terrible things in my time but it’s not specific to one nationality or one type of food business or anything like that.  So we find that there are some businesses with different cuisines that are very, very good and there are some that aren’t.  But I’ve not found in my experience, and we’ve been doing food safety now for almost 10 years, and we haven’t found that’s its specific to any one cuisine.

In fact I saw a movie the other day which was a comedy based in an American restaurant where an American chef actually went into the toilet and was standing there at the trough, you know as men do, and he had his cake spatula with him and was about to go back into the kitchen and lather up a cake.

Well I haven’t seen that but I have seen at one shopping center where a chef walked in, he was in full chef’s uniform with his apron and gloves on, he then went to the urinal and just opened to one side, finished doing what he was doing and then walked back out of the toilet without changing gloves, or washing his hands, and walked right back into his restaurant.

Well maybe he’s one of those chef’s that you know cooks with one hand and goes to the toilet with the other.

Yes, and he certainly wasn’t of Chinese descent so, like I said its not something that’s specific to one cuisine or another but yes, the importance of food safety certainly is something that all food businesses need to implement.

Yeah and I suppose, responsibly speaking, when these various name and shame things occur like the New South Wales Food Safety Authority, it would be better if they gave us a proportional understanding given the numbers of restaurants when you’re going to cut it down to cuisine.  Because the report this morning did most certainly give the idea that if you were going to get sick there was more chance of it in a Chinese food restaurant; but the suspicion might be that there are simply more Chinese food restaurants so it proportionately gives the wrong impression

Yes, possibly.  Like I said I don’t know the number of different Chinese or Indian or Pakistani or any of those different restaurants that are around.  But I think from the name and shame website is that it indicates what penalties are being raised and that’s what the officers and inspectors are finding.  I don’t think its their job to turn around and say, look there are more Chinese restaurants than others; they’re just reporting what they find, so I think it would be discriminatory if they proportionately reported what had been found.

What I’m getting at is the way the story was related though, they way the story sort of went; the suggestion was you’ve got more chance of getting sick from eating Chinese food than something else because of the raw numbers that were used.  But in fact proportionately there may simply be more Chinese restaurants; so the report may have been unfair.  But I suppose the very interesting thing also about the name and shame file is I wonder if you look up these things, and anyone listening if you do this, if you go to the website and have a look at any one of those name and shame restaurants, would you ever go to any one of them?

Gavin can you understand why somebody looking at these restaurants that have been caught out in the past, would just never go there again?

Very much so.  I know that I was doing some training in Sydney and I didn’t know a lot about some of the cases that one of the guys in the class was talking about and I spoke to him at the break and he said that he looks at the name and shame website all the time.  So I went back to the hotel where I was staying and I pulled out [Renwick], that’s where I was staying, and there were 36 restaurants there in [Renwick]; that’s going back about 8 months now.  There were 36 restaurants there that were listed including the one that I had eaten out at the night before, and it certainly didn’t give me… A lot of confidence.

Yeah.  I hadn’t seen anything that would not make me eat there, but it certainly would be something that I believe the public has a right to know.

Yeah, absolutely.

A lot of the time you can’t see what goes on behind the walls.

More than a lot.  Gavin, I appreciate your time.

Can I just clarify one point?  Just before the break you mentioned that it might be safer to eat in your own home.

Well if you are cooking the food yourself; I’m certainly happier with everything that we make at home yeah, but I have a couple of restaurants that I love.  Yeah go on.

But according to the Food Safety Information Council there’s about 5.3 million people that get food poisoning every year in Australia and about ¼ of that is quantified back to people preparing food in their own homes.

Is this because they are using poor ingredients or is it because they’re eating stuff that’s long past when they should have used it because they’re leaving things in the fridge for too long; like seconds and sort of leftovers and what have you?

Well it could be leftovers and things that have been left in the fridge, it could be you know a domestic fridge if it’s overloaded it might not be running at the right temperature or drawers being opened frequently but…

It’s a good point actually Gavin, you sort of pack everything you can into your refrigerator but if you do that it doesn’t actually work very well.

Well that’s right, and with having a young family myself things like changing nappies, if people don’t go and wash their hands after changing nappies and then go and prepare sandwiches or prepare food or salad or something for their kids then it could easily be that they’re making their own kids sick as opposed to or something they’ve picked up at school or something like that.

Taste sensations you’re not looking for.  Thanks for your time Gavin.

All right.

That’s a good point there in closing about what happens in your own home too; especially when people leave stuff in the fridge for too long.  “How long has this been here?”

Let me tell you, if there’s any question about how long something’s been in the fridge, just don’t risk it.

Why do Chinese eateries top the NSW Food Authority name and shame register?

Gavin Buckett was recently interviewed by the Daily Telegraph about the high incidence of Chinese food restaurants in the NSW Food Authority name and shame register.

Click on the hyperlink to read the full story!

NSW Food Authority Name And Shame Register

NSW Food Authority Name And Shame Register

Food Poisoning Outbreak Kills 18 In Europe

We advocate food safety on this blog because it’s important. The recent food poisoning outbreak in Europe is quite alarming, killing at least 18 people, sickening more than 1,600 and spreading to least 10 European countries.

An alarmingly large number of victims — about 500 — have developed kidney complications that can be deadly.

Chinese and German scientists analyzed the DNA of the E. coli bacteria and determined that the outbreak was caused by “an entirely new, super-toxic” strain that contains several antibiotic-resistant genes, according to a statement from the Shenzhen, China-based laboratory BGI. It said the strain appeared to be a combination of two types of E. coli. Click here to read more about the Super Toxic Strain involved.

China: Food safety violators to face death penalty

I just came across an article about food safety in China that as a result of increasing  public concerns over the country’s food safety following a wave of recent scandals, something needed to be done.

China’s highest court has ordered judges nationwide to hand down harsher sentences, including the death penalty, to people convicted of violating food safety regulations.

Now that’s severe punishment which highlights the growing importance of food safety on both a national and international scale.

Let’s face it, without proper regulation it’s a death sentence for some unsuspecting person…