Posts from the "Latest News" category

Food Allergy Week

May 12 – 18, 2014 Experts call for urgent action on food allergies.
Experts are calling on the government to urgently recognise allergy, including food allergy and anaphylaxis, as a National Health Priority and support an Australia-wide allergy register to capture the true number of food allergy fatalities and severe life-threatening reactions.
Australia has one of the highest incidences of food allergy in the world with one in 10 babies born today developing a food allergy by the age of 12 months.
Maria Said, President of Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), says food allergy is a rapidly growing public health issue that requires urgent attention. “In the absence of mandatory reporting of severe anaphylaxis, or mandatory coronial inquests as in the UK, we are potentially underestimating the number of food allergy related fatalities and
near misses. It also means we are failing to identify the gaps in knowledge that puts people at risk,” said Ms Said.
To read the full article, please click here.
Epipen image by Image by Greg Friese 2012 under creative commons licence

Read Article →
Positive progress with NZ Food Bill

HortNZ is continuing to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries and other industry parties on the new Act, which we expect to become law late this year or early next, and also on the transitional provisions which will be needed.
The Food Bill has passed a significant milestone with the Primary Production Committee reporting the Bill back to the House. The Committee’s report (incorporating their recommended changes to the Bill) can be accessed at this link:
Clause 14(1)(d) of the reported back Bill contains the provision that horticulture industry bodies have been asking for. The clause states that one of the principles to be applied in performing functions and duties under the Act are; “…the need to minimise costs for food businesses, and in particular, food businesses that operate under a private or industry programme that achieves the purpose of this Act”
Other issues that are dealt with by the extensive changes recommended in the Committee’s report include provisions about the relationship of the Act to the Wine Act, clearance of imported foods, the sale of food by small producers and powers to recall food.
Source: Horticulture New Zealand Newsletter May 14 2014

Read Article →
Grants awarded to further collaboration with China

Four grants have been awarded under the New Zealand – China Food Safety & Security Roadmap to further develop scientific collaborations with China.
These include two travel grants and two workshop grants, and are expected to grow durable scientific collaborations between New Zealand and China, focused on the areas of food safety and security.
The Roadmap Advisory Committee has allocated $5,000 travel grants to Garry Hill and Yinqiu Wu from Plant & Food Research; and $20,000 workshop grants to Associate Professor Ravi Gooneratne’s team from Lincoln University and Associate Professor Yacine Hemar from the University of Auckland.
The five-year Roadmap operates under the framework of the China – New Zealand Strategic Research Alliance (SRA) established in 2010, and aims to create research opportunities, conduct research and deploy science outcomes into the marketplace. The Roadmap identified three areas of priority areas of cooperation – Food Safety and Security; Water Research; and Non-communicable Diseases. Plant & Food Research was chosen as the coordinating organisation for work in the Food Safety and Security priority area, and manages the grants on behalf of MBIE and their International Relationships Fund.

Read Article →
Are leafy greens safer today?

Ryan Talley, chairman of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, believes leafy green vegetables are safer than ever.
As chairman of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LMGA), I am often asked if leafy greens are safer today than before the creation of our food safety program in 2007.
While I am in agreement with many others in the farming community who think leafy greens have always been safe, I honestly believe the existence of the LGMA has made this healthy food safer than ever before. In fact, given the drive for continuous improvement that is at the core of the LGMA, I would say that leafy greens are getting safer all the time.
As a farmer of leafy greens and a certified LGMA handler, I know firsthand the rigor of the LGMA food safety program, the thoroughness of the government audit program, the system of announced and unannounced audits, and the corrective actions required of us if we violate even one of the food safety checkpoints included in the LGMA audit.
As an LGMA Board member, I am also keenly aware of the transparent process by which LGMA metrics are updated to ensure they incorporate the best science available. I have seen the LGMA Tech program which trains our workforce grow stronger each year.
To read the full article, please click here
Source: Written by Ryan Talley,California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement

Read Article →
How we buy changes food safety

Apparently Australian consumers have really taken to purchasing online, with recently released research by Nielsen (the market research organisation) showing that about nine out of 10 consumers buying online in 2013.
Liquor is the big food group being purchased on line with our buying rate across the internet being twice what is being purchased in store, in terms of dollars spent.
The research has also shown that around 60% of people are using both on line and retail stores for making their purchasing decisions. This highlights why many food related businesses are now actively promoting an estore set up on their websites. It is now at a point that if a food business does not have the facility for customers to make purchases on line, that business will be losing trade.
This raises an interesting question in terms of food safety. Does a business put perishable items on its website for sale and, if so, how is it going to be delivered so it is safe for consumption?
It is worth remembering that if a food business chooses to sell potentially hazardous foods through its website and delivers that food, then this whole process will need to be included within the scope of all future food safety audits.
To read the full article, please click here
Source: Written by: Rachelle Williams

Read Article →
Innovate, Collaborate, Thrive in 2014

The fresh produce and food safety business landscapes continues to shift in ways that few could expect and faster than anyone could fully anticipate. Innovation is vital for businesses to stay ahead of the game, but often it is a collaborative effort across companies and organisations that really enables our industries to grow and thrive – especially where food safety and traceability are concerned.
From 24-26 June 2014, the PMA Fresh Connections conference and trade show will bring together the leaders in the world of fresh fruits, vegetables and cut flowers to conduct business and examine trends and topics of common interest, with a theme of innovate, collaborate, thrive. 
If you are a part of the industry, looking to do business with the industry or enhance your networks and business relationships, or simply want to learn more about future opportunities, PMA Fresh Connections has something for every segment of the fresh produce value chain and all the industries that support it. With up to 1000 delegates and over 60 exhibitors and sponsors from across New Zealand, Australia, and as far afield as China, USA, UK and Russia expected to attend, you’re sure to build your business network.
Session highlights for food safety businesses:
Business & science working together on improved traceability and risk mitigation
Speakers: Ed Treacey, PTI/PMA, Harrij Schmeitz FrugiCom, Dr Rebecca McLeod, Oritain
Farm Automation: Robotics and Intelligent Systems that will shape the fresh produce industry in the next decade
Speaker: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, University of Sydney (Australia)
Work different: Achieve real business improvement through Innovation 3.0
Speaker: Allan Ryan, Hargraves Institute (Australia)
Collaboration and innovation driving a stronger global fresh produce industry
Speaker: Anthony Barbieri, Produce Marketing Association (USA)
To view the full program, click here.
Earlybird registration closing soon
Register before 9th May 2014 to take advantage of the earlybird registration discount and save over NZD100 on your fulltime conference registration!
To register, please visit

Read Article →
Death Cap mushrooms not from Woolworths

Released 27/04/2014
ACT Health has been working closely with Woolworths and ACT Policing to investigate three cases of Death Cap mushroom poisoning that occurred in the ACT.
"We’d like to acknowledge the swift action taken by Woolworths in response to the initial information about the source of the mushrooms," ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Kelly said.
"Investigations by ACT Policing in the last 24 hours have found no evidence that the Death Cap mushrooms consumed by the patients were purchased from Woolworths in Dickson.
"Our investigations are still ongoing as to the source of the Death Cap mushrooms, however this remains an isolated incident and there have been no other recent reports of Death Cap mushroom poisoning in the ACT.
"Two of the patients remain in a stable condition in ACT hospitals and one patient is currently receiving care at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. ACT Health is seeking co-operation in respecting the privacy of these patients during this time," Dr Kelly concluded.
People are reminded not to pick and eat any wild mushrooms. It can be extremely difficult for even experienced collectors to distinguish Death Cap mushrooms from other edible mushrooms.
Further information on Death Cap mushrooms is available via:
A list of after-hours medical services in the ACT is available via:

Read Article →
Findings show raw apricot kernels a risk

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today [17 April 2014] released findings showing that eating raw apricot kernels could pose a public health and safety risk to consumers.
FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Steve McCutcheon said FSANZ and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries had looked at a range of foods that naturally contain a chemical that can be broken down after eating to release cyanide.
‘Cyanogenic glycosides are found in a range of foods including cassava root, linseed, bamboo shoots and apricot kernels,’ Mr McCutcheon said.
‘After testing these foods and conducting a risk assessment, FSANZ found only raw apricot kernels can pose a health and safety risk and may require further action.’
‘FSANZ has issued advice previously on raw apricot kernels and continues to advise consumers about the amounts they should consume.’
‘Adults should eat no more than three raw apricot kernels per day and children should not eat any.’
‘No other apricot products, including those made with apricot kernels, present a risk.’
Mr McCutcheon said some consumers eat apricot kernels in the belief they can cure or prevent cancer but Cancer Council Australia states that they are not only ineffective at treating cancer but could also be very dangerous.
‘While we are providing consumer advice and education, FSANZ is also working on a proposal looking at how to manage the risk of cyanogenic glycosides in raw apricot kernels.’
A call for submissions on the proposal is expected to be released mid-2014.

Read Article →
Who audits the auditors? How rockmelons can turn deadly

96% and a stellar audit rating did not stop a US rockmelon farm from selling contaminated melons that killed 33 people. How much responsibility should the auditor bear?
In 2011, whole rockmelons contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes sickened 147 and killed 33 people in the US. The rockmelons were traced to Jensen Farms in south-eastern Colorado. The two brothers who owned the farm were indicted with six federal misdemeanour charges for “introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce”. They each faced up to six years in prison plus up to US$1.5 million in fines.
After seeing their farm forced into bankruptcy, Eric and Ryan Jensen have just been sentenced with each receiving five years’ probation, six months of home detention and $150,000 each in restitution fees to victims. Victim families have already received $3.8 million from the Jensens’ insurance policy.
Now consumers have every right to expect that the rockmelon they purchase from the supermarket will not kill them and will not make them sick. But where does responsibility lie for this contamination disaster?
To read the full article, please click here

Read Article →
Australian supermarkets push their suppliers to join GS1 Recallnet Portal

Australian supermarket giants Coles, Woolworths, Costco and Metcash have acclaimed the new GS1 Australia product retail technology, Recallnet.
In an open letter, published on the GS1 website, the retailers asked their suppliers to join themselves into technology.
“We are pleased to announce our support of GS1 Recallnet, our industry’s tool for the effective management of recall and withdrawal notifications,” the retailer’s letter to suppliers said.
“We are now encouraging all of our partners to work with us by registering to use the portal,” it added.
Recallnet is an online portal that accelerates product recalls and withdrawals by simplifying and automating the exchange of information between suppliers, distributors and retailers as well as government agencies such as Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
For suppliers, the online portal makes it easier to accurately issue these notifications to customers in a timely manner, speeding up the information flow, eliminating confusion and saving money.
“When you issue recalls and withdrawals today, it’s hard to know whether the right information is delivered to the right people at the right time; which is why we’re proud to be joining this industry-wide effort to improve and standardise recall and withdrawal notifications,” the retailers wrote.
To read the full article, please click here
Source: Written by Meagan Carlaw

Read Article →