Posts from the "Blog" category

Australian & New Zealand food safety, traceability and technology blog by PMA Technology Manager Richard Bennett

US: Ice cream as a catalyst for change in the produce industry? By Dr Bob Whitaker

Dr Bob Whitaker, PMA: You are probably thinking that is an odd title unless you have been monitoring the Blue Bell ice cream recall in recent weeks. Blue Bell hit the news back in mid-March when they recalled ice cream products from one of their production lines owing to contamination with Listeria monocytogenes (Lm). Flashing forward to the end of April, Blue Bell has recalled all of its products currently in the market made at all of its facilities due to potential contamination with Lm. It turns out that arriving at where this case is today has been the result of a long and complex, multi-state outbreak investigation that may reach back as far as 2010. There are currently 10 people sickened by this incident across four states (Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas) with three deaths (all in Kansas). All of the victims were elderly and had other underlying health issues and were hospitalized before developing listeriosis.

While this is a tragedy that we can all relate to, you may still be asking, what does this have to do with produce?

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Food safety and foodservice – an unavoidable relationship, writes Richard Bennett

The question was posed: Is food safety the weakest link in the foodservice sector? That was the question requiring an answer at the recent PMA A-NZ Fresh Connections Foodservice Forum in May. Is food safety the most critical aspect of foodservice, or are issues like raw material supply, product innovation, packaging, shelf life and logistics, higher priorities?
Sadly, the facts speak for themselves, and food safety has to be right at the top, even if it’s not alone. “From 2007 to 2009, annual OzFoodNet data has consistently indicated that, on average, approximately two-thirds of all reported foodborne illness outbreaks in Australia involved food prepared in retail/food service settings e.g. restaurants, takeaways, commercial caterers, camps, cruise/airline, national franchised fast food restaurants and delicatessens” (Office of Best Practice Regulation 2011). That’s a sobering quote to start with.

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Food Standards releases revised frozen berry risk statement, writes Richard Bennett

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has released its risk statement on ready-to-eat (RTE) frozen berries and hepatitis A virus (HAV) following an extensive review of the incident involving Patties Foods. Using an internationally recognised food safety risk assessment approach, FSANZ has concluded that “…hepatitis A virus in RTE berries produced and handled under Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Hygienic Practices (GHP) is not a medium to high risk to public health.”

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Opinion: food safety audits by Dr. Bob Whitaker

During grower food safety events we often talk about why having a food safety program is important, how it is critical to have a program to protect your own business, protect your customers and ultimately public health. We talk about emerging science, the importance of foundational food safety programs like sanitation practices and worker hygiene and how to identify and manage potential cross contamination hazards on the farm and packinghouse. After going through this information and basically laying out the why, how and what of food safety; often some brave soul in the audience will raise their hand and ask, “So what score do I need to get in order to pass the audit”? And that’s when the frustration sets in. How did passing an audit become a substitute for actually building a risk-based food safety program?

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Grocery shoppers vote for food safety, by Richard Bennett

Richard Bennett: Australia’s grocery buyers have voted food safety as their top factor likely to influence which supermarket retailer they shop at, but only by a very narrow margin. A 2014 survey by Roy Morgan Research of nearly 16,000 shoppers put food safety just ahead of proximity, value, trading hours, even price.

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Take a deep breath and reflect on the hep A saga, suggests Richard Bennett

I’ve given a few presentations over recent years about crisis management, starting with the need to prevent a crisis as much as possible by having the right attitude towards food safety backed up with the necessary systems. I put attitude first for a reason.

The next stage is to be prepared. Despite the best prevention systems and intentions, glitches happen and you might find yourself in need of a plan to manage the unthinkable. Good prevention and preparation will make all the difference to response and recovery. There’s plenty of evidence to show that resilience – the ability to bounce back – is almost directly related to how you respond, which is directly related to what you have done to prevent and prepare.

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Outbreaks a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’: the Hep A crisis & tools to minimise risk, by Richard Bennett

Australia’s food safety and quality assurance standards are widely recognised as being world-leading. We are fortunate that not many serious outbreaks have occurred in Australia, however as the frozen berries hepatitis crisis that has been unfolding over the last two weeks has shown, outbreaks of this nature…

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You’ll be hearing more about the Global Food Safety Initiative, writes Richard Bennett

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a global food industry initiative to improve food safety for consumers and an opportunity for networking, knowledge exchange and information sharing. All parts of the value chain, from producers to retail, and all the food safety support services, are engaged.

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Intentional contamination should come as no surprise, but are you prepared?” asks Richard Bennett

It’s a sad reflection of society that there are people out there who, for reasons best known to themselves, seek to injure consumers and destroy the reputation of supply chain members by intentionally contaminating produce.

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Richard Bennett’s recap of 2014 & Top 5 Food Safety, Traceability & Technology Trends for 2015

As this will be the final blog for 2014, it’s worth reflecting on 2014 and having a prediction of what 2015 might bring. At least with the past, we’ve got facts to go on. From a foodborne illness and recall point of view, it’s been the quietest year for quite a few. There have been only nine…
New food safety & technology post by Richard Bennett on the PMA A-NZ Blog . View the full post here:
Image credit: Dafne Chloet / Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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