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  • Ya Gao 8:53 pm on November 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Oceania, Scombroid poisoning, , seafood toxin   

    7 Customers Showed Symptoms of Scombroid Fish Poisoning after Eating in a Sydney Café 

    Seven people fell ill and showed symptoms of scombroid poisoning after eating from the same food outlet in the Sydney CBD, Soul Origin café, in late February 2015. The tuna, which was served in sandwiches at the café, was suspected to have caused scombroid poisoning.


    source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-26/scombroid-fish-poisoning-linked-to-sydney-cafe-tuna/6263120

    The New South Wales (NSW) Food Authority in Australia investigated that the canned product “John Bull Tuna Chunky Style in Sunflower Oil”, which Soul Origin café used, is a product of Thailand and imported into Australia by a Victorian company. This minor brand was used predominately in catering; it was not generally available to the public. The outbreak was not widespread and all affected product was removed from the market immediately.


    source: http://ausfoodnews.com.au/2015/03/11/canned-tuna-food-safety-scare-linked-to-thai-factory.html

    The NSW Food Authority tested the leftover tuna salad at the café to have 3950 micrograms of histamine per kilogram of tuna. The test result was well above the acceptable limit of 200 micrograms histamine per kilogram of fish.

    Scombroid poisoning is an allergic-type reaction to elevated levels of histamine in fish. It occurs when an enzyme produced by naturally occurring bacteria in certain fish species (including tuna, sardines, mackerel, swordfish, and marlin) convert histidine in the fish to histamine. Elevated levels of histamine amino acids in the fish produce cause the food poisoning. The temperature abuse of the fish produce at the catching or processing stage is usually the cause of the scombroid poisoning. The presence of high level of histamine in fish shows that decomposition of fish produce has occurred. The histamine toxin is not inactivated by ordinary cooking methods, and the contaminated fish will not necessarily appear spoiled.

    Symptoms of histamine poisoning occur quickly, usually within 30 minutes or a few hours upon ingestion of contaminated fish. The symptoms typically last for a few hours. However, in some cases, they can last for several days. Common symptoms of histamine poisoning including peppery or metallic taste sensation, tingling of mouth and lips, skin rash or itchy skin, headaches, and dizziness; nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur in some cases. People with scombroid poisoning may be treated with antihistamines. Scombroid poisoning is rarely fatal, but it was thought to have killed a Australian mother and daughter, Noelene and Yvana Bischoff, while they were on vacation in Bali in January 2014. However, the case is extremely rare.

    Here is the news article on the tragedy happened in Bali:

    Histamine poisoning is rare, and there have been less than 10 outbreaks of histamine poisoning with 187 people diagnosed with the poisoning in Australia over the past 10 years.

    Since histamine is not destroyed by heat treatments, buying seafood from reputable sources to ensure the product is kept refrigerated when it is being transported and stored becomes the best way to protect us against scombroid poisoning.

    News sources & Reference:
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2015. Scombroid Fish Poisoning Linked to Sydney Café after Four Customers Fall Ill. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-26/scombroid-fish-poisoning-linked-to-sydney-cafe-tuna/6263120

    Australian Food News, 2015. Canned Tuna Food Safety Scare Linked to Thai Factory. Retrieved from http://ausfoodnews.com.au/2015/03/11/canned-tuna-food-safety-scare-linked-to-thai-factory.html

    Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2012. Food Safety Facts on Scombroid Poisoning. Retrieved from http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/information-for-consumers/fact-sheets/food-poisoning/scombroid/eng/1332280657698/1332280735024

    Daily Mail Online, 2014. Australian Mother and Daughter Who Died in Bali Hotel Room Victims of Rare Fish Poison. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2551853/Australian-mother-daughter-died-Bali-hotel-room-victims-RARE-fish-poison-combined-asthma.html

    Food Standards Australia New Zealand, 2015. Histamine (Scombroid) Fish Poisoning. Retrieved from http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/Pages/Histamine-(Scombroid)-fish-poisoning.aspx

    New South Wales Food Authority, 2015. Update: NSW Food Authority Investigation into Scombroid at Sydney Café. Retrieved from http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/mr-26-Feb-15-scobroid-sydney-cafe#.Vk_Ii0ujZ4U

    • ColleenChong 8:14 pm on November 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting article! I really like how you were display two cases of Scombroid fish poisoning to display the common reason that this food-borne illness occurs. From the two articles storage and transportation temperatures of fish seems to be crucial since it is due to bacteria converting histidine to histamine. As you have mentioned that the production of histamine is often due to the decomposition of the fish. I think that it is important that Health authorities do increase monitoring of quality of imported fish and histamine levels. Although the cases of scombroid poisoning seems to be rare it might occur without detection because the symptoms of poisoning is common with other illnesses. I think increasing the surveillance of Scombroid fish poisoning would be beneficial to the public because it is a preventable food-borne illness through proper manufacture, retail and consumer practices.

    • Susanna Ko 12:27 am on November 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That is really unfortunate because the high levels of histamine are not reduced with cooking, so it’s really about the handling of the raw fish prior to processing it. I thought that the food processing plant would test their raw and finished products on the histamine levels. One would think that regulations and HACCP would prevent this kind of occurrence, especially in ready-to-eat hermetically sealed canned foods.

    • amreenj 3:19 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article! It is scary to see how much histamine there really was in the left over tuna, having 3950 micrograms/ kg is well over the acceptable limit of 200 micrograms/kg and could lead to severe complications as a result. Often with temperature abuse, it may be difficult to tell that this has occurred unless there are distinct/ obvious signs such as spoilage, odour, or colour change. I would think that there would be measures in place to firstly prevent this from happening, secondly to prevent this type of fish from being packaged, and thirdly that once opened chefs are able to detect that there may be something wrong with a fish (ie. if there is odour etc.). Histamine reactions can be fatal and as such, extra precautionary measures must be in place to prevent such things from occurring.

    • Mandy Tam 9:35 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This article provides a lot of good information about seafood poisoning. I have learn a lot.

      I know CFIA tracks histamine level in all imported fish products from the tour I have in FNH 326 in CFIA. CFIA has a specific import inspection program and one must get a fish import license to permit to import and sell fish in Canada. If someone is selling fish to restaurant or retail store without permit, he/she might be on conviction by indictment. The person might need to face jail time or/and paying a fine. Therefore, there is extensive tracking in Canada. I wonder what is the regulation/ surveillance Australia has on preventing fish poisoning from imported food. Anyhow, this is a very lucky case that no one died because of the outbreak.

      Link to CFIA:

    • elaine chan 12:08 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting article! I liked how you provided a detailed explanation as to what scombroid poisoning is, and its relation to histamine levels. I find it really amazing how a product containing 3950mg of histamine per kg of tuna was even allowed to be distributed for sale, when it’s way over its acceptable limits. It makes me question whether the manufacturer of this product performs quality control testing to ensure that their product is safe for consumption. Thankfully, this product was not for sale that’s available to the general public, or else its consequences would have been much, much more severe. However, it still caused a food borne outbreak that I felt could’ve been prevented through more strict quality control measures. I hope that the cafe does not suffer a major customer loss from this incident because they are the innocent victims. They are the consumers, and typically in cafes or restaurants, products such as canned tuna, are purchased with the assumption that they are safe and ready for consumption. I feel that both Thailand and Australia should implement more strict surveillance to ensure that exported and imported food products are safe for the general population for consumption.

    • flyingsquirrel 4:35 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What I find interesting about this article is that it shows that it is not just bacterial pathogens that produce toxins that are harmful once consumed (for example Clostridium botulinum, dinoflagelettes ). There are many naturally occurring endogenous substances that are potentially toxic in high amounts and I am glad this article brings that into light. I think many people in general that do not work or study in food safety will often overlook this and it is important to be aware that proper storage of foods is not only important for preventing bacteria proliferation, but also for preventing unwanted enzyme activity to keep foods delicious and safe. I think one reason why the monitoring of the tuna products imported seems inefficient may be due to the fact that it is not sold in the mass public market. Perhaps allocated resources left for inspecting certain products were unequally distributed based on the size of the target market?

    • YaoWang 12:17 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s interesting that people can get sick by eating “allergic” fish. But it’s unfortunate to know that we can neither get rid of the histamine through normal cooking methods nor distinguish between fresh and spoiled fish. Apparently the problem can be caused by many microorganisms, rather than just the pathogens and therefore, is of great concern. So, I’m wondering what we could do to prevent such food-borne illnesses in the future?

    • CandiceZheng 2:37 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for sharing the seafood poisoning case with us! And I personally feel it is very unfortunate that although we understand that histamine level can indicate the degree of seafood decomposition, for the normal population there is no easy way to differentiate whether there is high level of histamine on the seafood. As indicated in the post, the leftover tuna salad at the café have 3950 micrograms of histamine per kilogram of tuna, which is well above the acceptable limit of 200 micrograms histamine per kilogram of fish. However, people still couldn’t observe any unusual appearance from these tuna. In this case I think it is very important to have some quick and easy way to examine the histamine level on seafood. For example, using something like pH test strips that are cheap, easy to use, and handy for the general population to use to test the histamine level on seafood in order to prevent further poisoning issues.

    • DeniseZhang 7:37 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      According to the food chemistry courses that I am taking this term, histamine is a product from decarboxylation reaction of histidine. On immunological aspect, histamine can cause inflammation in human bodies (which is good while fighting pathogens), and it can also lead to hypersensitivities (a.k.a. allergy) in human bodies. I did not know that we have histamine poisoning issue in our life. Even though it is an extremely rare case, I do believe that we need to pay attention to it as undesirable inflammation is annoying. I really wish food provides can know more about those potential risks in foods, so that we can have foods more safely.

  • catherine wong 1:27 pm on October 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Fried Rice, , , Oceania,   

    Listeria Monocytogenes Recall in Australian Fried Rice: No Ending 

    In Australia, there was a recall on September 3, 2015 due to pre-packaged fried rice from the company JL King & Co due to Listeria monocytogenes. Both packagings of 1kg and 450g were on the recall. As of now, there is still no information about the source of contamination, how many or if there were any consumers who got sick. The best before date for this product was September 15, 2015, which was only 12 days from the date the recall was announced. (Australian Competition Consumer Commission, 2015)

    Similar to most other ready to eat foods that Listeria monocytogenes like to grow in, the shelf life is quite short and some consumers consume the ready to eat products right after purchasing. Other products such as canned foods that Clostridium botulinum can grow in, the shelf life can be up to 2 years which gives plenty of time for recalls as those consumers may not consume them immediately after purchase. The recalls for ready to eat foods such as the pre-packaged fried rice can serve the purpose of taking the food off store shelves to prevent future consumers from getting sick. However for the consumers who have consumed contaminated products before any recall notification, some of them may not even get sick due to the natural microflora present on their intestinal surfaces.

    The ones who are most susceptible to falling ill from Listeria monocytogenes are pregnant women and their unborn or newborn children, seniors and the immunocompromised. For pregnant women in the first three months of pregnancy, being sick with Listeria monocytogenes can cause a miscarriage. If the bacteria is contracted later on in the pregnancy, premature birth, stillbirth or the birth of a severely ill child may happen. The immunocompromised are much more likely to get sick but according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, people suffering from AIDS are 300 times more susceptible to being infected by Listeria monocytogenes compared to healthy individuals. (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2012)

    Listeria Monocytogenes luckily cannot grow in all ready to eat food products as long as the food product falls under one of the following three criteria according to Australia’s Food Standards (Food Standards, 2014):
    1. pH less than 4.4, no matter the water activity value
    2. Water activity less than 0.92, no matter the pH value
    3. pH less than 5.0 and water activity less than 0.94

    However, if Listeria monocytogenes is present it can survive in acid conditions and in products with low water activity for a long period of time, especially for refrigerated products. Even if the product has gone through a drying process, Listeria monocytogenes may survive. (Lawley, 2013)

    If the ready to eat food product is frozen and is consumed frozen, thawed but still eaten cold or heated before consumption then it is most likely safe from Listeria Monocytogenes. (Food Standards, 2014) If the ready to eat food product does not fit with the above criteria, then heating to an internal temperature of 74°C before eating can help in minimizing the chance of Listeria monocytogenes surviving in the food. (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2012)

    With all the conditions Listeria monocytogenes can grow or survive in ready to eat products, I feel that one of the better ways to minimize the risks of getting ill from Listeria monocytogenes is to heat ready to eat products except for frozen products before consuming. Although this might be difficult for ready to eat foods that are generally eaten at room temperature such as sandwiches.

    Are there any other methods that you think are sufficient in eliminating Listeria monocytogenes?


    Andersen, L. (2015) Listeria and Bacteriocin-Producing Starter Culture. Retrieved from http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/08/listeria-and-bacteriocin-producing-starter-cultures/#.Vi3XUmSrToB

    Australian Competition Consumer Commission. (2015). Product Safety Recalls Australia. Retrieved from http://www.recalls.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1076441

    Food Standards. (2014). Supporting document 1 – Guidance On the Application of Microbiological Criteria for Listeria Monocytogenes. Retrieved from

    Lawley, R. (2013). Food Safety Watch. Retrieved from http://www.foodsafetywatch.org/factsheets/listeria/

    Public Health Agency of Canada. (2012). Listeria. Retrieved from

    • ColleenChong 5:16 pm on October 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am glad you brought up that listeria monocytogenes can survive acid and low water activity environments, just as Trish has mentioned in her presentation. Although L. Monocytogenes is a heat sensitive microorganism once it contaminates processing equipment it will be a major issue because it can form biofilms, which protects the pathogen. Contamination usually occurs after post-processing as you mentioned ready to eat products. I think the general public does not need to be too concern when consuming these products. However, young children, pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals should be careful. If possible the susceptible population to try to avoid these foods in general because the serious consequences can result in listeriosis or even death.

    • Jasmine Lee 2:56 pm on October 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I agree with Colleen that Listeria monocytogenes may have been introduced to this product through post-processing contamination. Potential sources may be due to unsanitary premises, unclean air ventilation, contaminated packaging and/or temperature abuse. Even though this product may pose a serious health risk for immunocompromised individuals, I find it rather surprising that there are no further details available since the date of the recall. Since Listeria monocytogenes is ubiquitous in the environment, I strongly believe multiple methods are necessary to control the presence of this pathogen. These measures may include reassessing the company’s HACCP program to reinforce proper sanitation practices, frequent microbiological monitoring and appropriate storage temperatures. A combination of rapid pathogen detection methods should be utilized because some techniques, such as PCR, may detect false positives. Alternatively, the company could look into reformulating the product to include more hurdles, such as adding antimicrobial agents and increasing lethality of the heat treatment. Applying different treatments and storing susceptible food components in separate packages (combined by the end user during consumption) may lower favorable conditions for bacterial growth. These methods may also extend the product’s shelf life.

    • RainShen 1:01 pm on November 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Comparing to other pathogenic microorganisms, Listeria monocytogenes can be resistant to many stresses during the processing and before consumption which causes it becomes one of the biggest concern for consuming the ready to eat food. I agree that the best way to eliminate L. monocytogenes in the high risk ready to eat food is heating the product to at least 74C. However, the manufacturer of the ready to ear food should improve their food safety system as well which may include sanitation procedure, regular equipment checking, personnel hygiene etc, especially that L. monocytogenes can form biofilm on the surface of the equipment, so regular microbiological testing will be necessary in the ready to eat manufacturing company. Complete final products checking and testing will be needed to ensure the absence of L. monocytogenes in the ready to eat foods.

    • MarinaMoon 2:50 am on November 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As Listeria monocytogenes is one of the pathogens that can withstand many hurdles during food production and storage, it should be especially cautious and have very strict regulation system regarding production that is easily susceptible to Listeria Monocytogenes contamination. However, in this article in particular, I believe that these pre-packaged fried rice would be mostly consumed by healthy individuals probably those who do not have the time to make one themselves such as college students and workers. Thus, although we should be concerned and pay close attention to be able to prevent further contamination, I don’t think it would result in severe outbreaks like some other pathogens. As elderly, pregnant women and infants are most vulnerable to contamination, I do not think this particular product would create such a disaster. Nonetheless, I think better sanitation in the production environment and more strict regulations could possibly lead to prevention of this pathogen.

    • cvalencia 5:07 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article on Listeria! I think that it is surprising to find this pathogen in pre-packaged, since most of the time they are found on high-risk foods such as soft cheeses and deli meats. This just goes to show that we must take extra precaution to ensure food safety, even in unexpected food items such as the case for this food item. Also, it shows that we have a long way to go in food safety to ensure that cases like these don’t happen in the future

    • Ya Gao 9:24 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is interesting to learn the specific details about how Listeria affect vulnerable people like pregnant women and their unborn or newborn children, seniors and the immunocompromised. And it is shocking to see how AIDS change life by looking at the number “people suffering from AIDS are 300 times more susceptible to being infected by Listeria monocytogenes compared to healthy individuals”. Ready to eat food can be a great threat since people tend not to process them at home after purchasing and consume them directly. A better controlling on production, distribution and retailing of ready to eat food products is important to protect these vulnerable people from getting harm.

    • MichelleLui 10:59 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Good information on Listeria Monocytogenes. Contaminated ingredient is mostly likely the starting agent to the contamination as there has to be an introduction of Listeria Monocytogenes into the processing facility or food. There could be other contaminants such as rodents due to poor pest control program at the processing facility. Just browsing through their website, it looks like they process many items, including dairy and produce. Good sanitation standard procedures should be in place to prevent cross contamination. The firm should monitor their suppliers by testing their ingredients and packagings for pathogens or indicator organisms.

  • yichen25 10:31 pm on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brisbane, Eggs, , Oceania, ,   

    Australia: Unresolved egg problem 


    In the past week, a Salmonella outbreak was reported at the South Bank Surf Club in Brisbane, Australia where the restaurant was inspected after receiving some complaints from consumers who felt sick. After further investigation, it was found out that it was due to a bad batch of eggs which was provided by the supplier and the eggs were used in the sauces in seafood platter. As a major egg lover myself, it will be a terrible nightmare to know that you will end up sick eating your favorite food and not knowing the cause of it.

    In Australia, despite an overall decline in the national rate of foodborne illness cases each year, the number of Salmonella– related food-poisoning cases continues to increase drastically, posing a health threat to the local community. According to the statistics shown by the Victoria’s Department of Health Figures, there has been a 50% increase in Salmonella-related food poisoning since 2012 along with a doubling of Salmonella poisoning cases occurring in the past 12 months in Queensland with 1895 reported cases so far. A table of past raw eggs related outbreak in Australia was carefully tabulated which shows recurring food outbreaks occurring year by year revolving around eggs. This also indirectly implies the fact that the existing intervention strategies to combat against Salmonella were not as efficient in the prevention of raw egg contamination.

    For your information, Salmonella food-poisoning is one of the most common food-borne illnesses reported which is often associated with contaminated poultry products such as eggs. Salmonella can be naturally found in soil and water and contamination of Salmonella is prone to occur with unsanitary food handling and improper cooking of raw food items. Besides, ingestion of food contaminated with Salmonella can lead to salmonellosis which shows symptoms such as abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.

    In conjunction to the recent outbreak which points upstream to the reservoir, studies have shown that some Salmonella serovars, especially Salmonella enterica serovar have the capacity of infecting developing eggs within the oviduct. Therefore, contaminated eggs which serve as an ecological amplifier could then facilitate the dissemination of Salmonella into the food chain and further leads to human transmission.

    Besides the possibility of initial product contamination, it is also undeniable that proper food handling techniques are mandatory when it comes to the prevention of food contamination. To properly address that issue, new guidelines have been released by the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia New Zealand to spread more awareness and knowledge about the importance of proper food safety standards. In conclusion, I personally think that the Australian Government should properly educate the public about the importance of proper food handling techniques and how does it relate to foodborne illnesses. Also, strict policies in regard to proper food handling practices and maintenance of hygienic standards should be further enforced from farm to fork to minimize the occurrence of foodborne illnesses in Australia.

    Please leave some comments on your thoughts on the increasing Salmonella outbreak cases in Australia. Thanks.

    Yi Chen Teh


    • BarbaraCorreiaFaustino 9:23 pm on October 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting article! I wonder why there is that increase in Salmonella-related foodborne diseases, even though there is a decline in the number of overall foodborne diseases. Clearly the strategies that the Australian authorities are using to prevent food poisoning from other pathogens are not working so well to prevent food poisoning from Salmonella-contaminated food. So I’m glad that at least they released those new guidelines, which are very helpful, so that people will have more information on how to properly handle and prepare their food in order to prevent salmonellosis and, therefore, also prevent Salmonella outbreak cases in Australia.

    • NorrisHuang 10:31 pm on October 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am also curious about why Salmonella infection is still so common while the rate of occurrence of other identified pathogens such as E.coli is decreasing. I don’t know much about guidelines in Australia but I checked on their government website and I don’t see much advices on how to prevent Salmonella infections whereas in the USA, for example, they actually request restaurants to use pasteurized eggs to make food that contains lightly cooked/raw eggs. I wonder if that is one reason of the increasing trend of Salmonella infections.

      ps. I am a big fan of gudetama too :p

    • Susanna Ko 6:56 pm on October 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Unfortunately I think that it is not uncommon to use raw egg in food dishes. For example, in asian hot pot, my friends add a raw egg to their soy sauce. In French cuisine, beef tartare with a raw egg. I guess egg adds flavour and texture to these sauces. Eggnog made with raw egg is deemed to be “true eggnog”. As you’ve pointed out, there are many risks involved with raw egg and Salmonella. The general population probably doesn’t know about the significant risk involved with raw eggs. However, if companies started bottling pasteurized/retorted versions of the sauces with (cooked) egg, then it might alleviate some of these issues.

    • YaoWang 1:17 pm on October 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m an egg lover too! It’s so bad to hear the news. But I’m curious why Salmonella–related food-poisoning cases still continue to increase drastically while the overall food safety environment is getting much better these years. And I’m wondering what are the proper handling techniques at home. Does that mean I have to cook the eggs thoroughly? The thing is I personally prefer medium raw eggs and I believe many people even consume raw eggs. Is it possible to have the producers to prevent initial contamination so that we can still eating eggs without much cook?

    • wen liao 10:41 pm on October 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      HA Salmonella is literally everywhere and they grow very fast! I remembered when I was in lab grow them, they can reach a OD value of 1 within just 16 hours! Therefore, it is important that food producers are following the guidelines for safe production. I am very curious about the Australia standards of raising their chickens as such. To be honest, with the technology we have now, I feel like it would not be hard if we really want to control the existence of Salmonella in the eggs. Japan for example. is a country that have a long history of consuming raw eggs. However, very seldom was Japan reported to host a large foodborne pathogen related outbreak, including Salmonella outbreak. They have a very established system for food safety surveillance. I believe that there must be some human errors that are causing this Salmonella outbreak in Australia.

    • Mandy Tam 3:02 pm on October 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Eggs produced from local farms or self raised are more popular nowadays because of the trend of organic foods, and getting food from local areas/ themselves. Although this seems to be a good idea, most of the fresh egg from local farms or self raised are not pasteurized like commercial production. Also, they do not go through microbe testing like most companies required. I wonder the suppliers for that restaurant is from a local farm or from a bigger company. It will be interesting to know because it can determine if the result of such outbreaks are due to bad manufacturing practices or lack of regulation in self raised chicken/ eggs and/or local farms.

    • angel519 4:56 pm on October 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is not surprising that the number of foodborne illnesses caused by Salmonella still remains high. As mentioned in the blog, eggs are one of the main source of Salmonella in the diet; and because eggs are so preferability to be eaten raw or half cooked, there is a higher chance of being infected by Salmonella. I agree that the government should emphasize the consequences of getting infected by Salmonella. And that the quality control and safety control of eggs should be addressed and strictly inspected.

    • laurenrappaport 6:17 pm on October 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Super interesting article! I cant believe that there are still so many cases of foodborne illness in relation to Salmonella. For some reason we cant seem to get rid of it! Its scary to know that you can get so sick on a food so commonly consumed in our society and around the world! As eating raw eggs or partially cooked eggs occur so frequently, people don’t really think about the consequences it may cause. The impacts of this are clearly highlighted in your article when you said that there has been a 50% increase in Salmonella poisoning over the past 3 year which I found so crazy! I totally agree that stronger government regulations should be implemented in Australia as clearly so many people have been effected by this. When it comes to the case of Salmonella in eggs I think education about proper handling and storage would be the most effective way to prevent contamination and the illnesses associated with it.

    • amreenj 7:43 pm on October 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Really interesting article! Like many of the people who posted before me, I am also really surprised that the occurrence of Salmonella related food poisonings have increased by a staggering 50%. What is confusing is that the occurrence of food-borne illnesses in general has drastically declined over the years. I wonder what would be causing this? It seems as though the strategies (food preventative measures) they have currently are working to some extent but perhaps they need to develop Salmonella -directed measures to better eliminate Salmonella related food borne illnesses!

    • Ya Gao 8:18 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I personally enjoy eating eggs that are not fully cooked, and it is scary for me to see that eating eggs rare will cause so much trouble. People tend to cook poultry products entirely to well done, but I saw most people having eggs not completely cooked, as sunny side up for example. Since it takes time for people to adapt to a new habit, I believe Australian government should focus more on regulating egg farms and improving their sanitary condition to reduce the cases of Salmonella-related food poisoning. 1895 reported cases in a year is a shocking number to see, and number of real cases must be much more because of the under-reporting situation that exists worldwide. Hope the condition in Australian egg farms will get better!

  • meggyli 9:04 pm on October 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Oceania   

    Debate: The Risks of Black Market Raw Milk against the Risks of its Legal Consumption in Australia 

    Raw milk is defined as milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. Unpasteurized milk can become contaminated with pathogens such as salmonella spp., E. coli, and especially, Campylobacter jenuni. It has been a century-long global debate on whether or not the dangers of consuming unpasteurized milk is enough to justify its sales prohibition in major countries.

    Availability and regulation of raw milk vary from region to region. In Australia, the sale of raw milk for consumption purposes is illegal in all states and territories, as is raw milk cheese with the exception of hard raw milk cheese. However, this has been somewhat undermined by legally selling raw milk as bath milk or pet milk. Ironically, the container in which you can purchase bath milk from looks exactly the same as you would purchase pasteurized milk. Despite raw milk’s legislative ban, Australian cheese maker Bowden has remarked that, “whether it’s legal or not, people are buying and drinking raw unpasteurized milk.” Several incidents associated with drinking unpasteurized milk in Australia has reached the headlines, including the death of a toddler in 2014.

    Beverage? Cosmetics? Who knows!

    Some decades ago, the common practice when it comes to milk consumption was that you would walk over to your neighboring farm, pump some milk out of the grazing cows into a bottle, and drink it fresh. Drinking raw milk is considered by many health experts as the only correct way milk should be drunk, as the beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus is still present in raw milk, along with many essential vitamins, including A, C, B6, and B12, as well as minerals and enzymes.

    Unfortunately, the sale prohibition on raw milk isn’t in line with all consumers in Australia, and whenever there are profitable goods for sale that’s banned by the government, the sales move underground and black markets come in. Black markets elevates the issues associated with raw milk consumption by sneakily packaging raw milk as cosmetic milk and selling them at local farmers’ markets or roadside stands. The concern with black market sales is that there is no transparency or after-sale support for the customers. Labelling for merchandise at these places are also not under strict regulations, so many consumers may not even be aware of what is exactly in the bottle they just purchased. In the end, it really comes down to understanding the risk consuming raw milk poses. Bowden advocates the legalization of selling raw milk under tight regulations, including consumption shortly after production, and possibly selling in conjunction with a bacteria-testing kit.

    The problem that can occur with consuming raw milk comes mostly from not treating it in the most hygienic and/or proper manner. Degeling from Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine (VELiM) remarked that large scale production could exacerbate problems, because “often the milk from a lot of cows are mixed together and it only takes one breakdown in the hygiene and bio-safety measures in the milking of one cow for the whole batch to be contaminated.” Currently, the Food Standards Australia (FSA) are beginning to recognize the increasing demand for raw dairy and are in the process of assessing the requirements that dairy plants would need to satisfy in order to safely produce and sell raw milk.

    Please click here for the original article if you are interested. 🙂

    So now the question is: should raw milk on day become legalized in Australia, or even in other countries? And if not, what steps can be taken to ensure the legislation will be enforced? What do you guys think?

    Meggy Li

    • SusannaKo 10:24 pm on October 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Personally I don’t think raw milk should be legalized in Australia. However, I know that there are a lot of raw milk advocates. To appease them, I would recommend a warning label, similar to those found on cigarette packages, that would say “consumption of raw milk is linked to diseases that cause kidney failure, gastroenterities etc”. Some steps that can be taken to ensure the legislation is enforced is to have farms registered (so a record can be kept), and have food inspectors search the web for “cow shares” in which there is raw milk available. Also, having information available on Government websites about the risks involved with raw milk consumption might help too.

    • Michelle Ebtia 10:14 am on October 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I personally know of parents who insist on feeding their infants raw cow’s milk, as they believe it would lead to less severe allergic reactions and better tolerance by their infants. However, studies suggest that there is no evidence to support this claim (Høst,1994). The bigger problem this would pose on the health of infants who are fed raw cow’s milk is the unregulated levels of pathogenic microorganisms present in the milk, as mentioned by Meggy. A quick research in the literature shows other types of raw milk are quite risky as well, for example it has been shown that raw goat’s milk can cause Toxoplasmosis in infants(Riemann et al. 1975). With such great risks and minimal benefits, it seems that the current ban on the sale and consumption of raw milk makes a lot of sense.

      Høst, A. (1994). Cow’s milk protein allergy and intolerance in infancy Some clinical, epidemiological and immunological aspects. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 5(S6), 5-36.

      Riemann, H. P., Meyer, M. E., Theis, J. H., Kelso, G., & Behymer, D. E. (1975). Toxoplasmosis in an infant fed unpasteurized goat milk. The Journal of pediatrics, 87(4), 573-576.

      • Carissa Li 12:09 am on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        When there is something being banned, there is always someone who try to break the law! Therefore, getting the regulation strict is a very important step to make in order to control the selling of raw milk to people. However, to really stop the consumption of raw milk, we need to let everyone knows why it is being banned. Some people don’t understand the potential risk of drinking raw milk since they never get any food poisoning which leads to people not following the rules. With good reasoning and education, people will understand the reason for setting laws and follow them.

    • Carissa Li 11:07 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      When there is something being banned, there is always someone who try to break the law! Therefore, getting the regulation strict is a very important step to make in order to control the selling of raw milk to people. However, to really stop the consumption of raw milk, we need to let everyone knows why it is being banned. Some people dont understand the potential risk of drinking raw milk since they never get any food poisoning which leads to people not following the rules. With good reasoning and education, people will understand the reason for setting laws and follow them

    • Carissa Li 12:08 am on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      When there is something being banned, there is always someone who try to break the law! Therefore, getting the regulation strict is a very important step to make in order to control the selling of raw milk to people. However, to really stop the consumption of raw milk, we need to let everyone knows why it is being banned. Some people dont understand the potential risk of drinking raw milk since they never get any food poisoning which leads to people not following the rules. With good reasoning and education, people will understand the reason for setting laws and follow them.

    • Carissa Li 12:09 am on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      When there is something being banned, there is always someone who try to break the law! Therefore, getting the regulation strict is a very important step to make in order to control the selling of raw milk to people. However, to really stop the consumption of raw milk, we need to let everyone knows why it is being banned. Some people don’t understand the potential risk of drinking raw milk since they never get any food poisoning which leads to people not following the rules. With good reasoning and education, people will understand the reason for setting laws and follow them.

    • ayra casuga 10:51 am on October 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This article is very intriguing as the topic of selling raw milk has always been controversial. Primarily because although the risk factors are obvious (Food-borne pathogens), there is no general consensus of the benefits of consuming raw milk. Michelle’s comment about parents feeding their infants raw milk is very interesting as I can see how some people would find that absurd, while I can also see how one could rationalize feeding infants raw milk. Providing infants in a young age with raw milk may be able to strengthen their food bacteria tolerance by building their child’s microflora in their gut with a variety of bacteria. I remember learning in my MicBIO202 class that theres a correlation between children’s gastrointestinal system to be “too clean” and an increase in allergies present in children. So by exposing them to some harsher bacteria may be beneficial, although the risks are high.

      In terms of viability of selling raw milk, I believe that selling raw milk should be allowed, although the suppliers of raw milk must undergo more stringent regulations in their procedure. I believe that by banning raw milk will cause some small suppliers to want to sell it in the “black market”, which would be more dangerous as the supplier might not have prepared it in the cleanest way possible. With the high demand of raw milk, it is impossible to eliminate the demand by banning its supply, if anything that would increase the demand and producers would start selling it under the table.

      Therefore, I think a good solution would be that suppliers would need to have a specific license in order to sell raw milk and thus would obtain a special “raw milk certified label”. Analogous to how farmers would need a “Regulated organic license” in order to sell their produce as organic. That way, the suppliers would undergo strict regulations in order to maximize food safety in their raw milk products, and consumers would trust that their raw milk is produced by the highest quality.

    • cvalencia 4:27 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I also think the consumption of raw milk is quite dangerous, but I had a friend who visited Nepal, and lived there with the locals. She said that the family gave her raw cow’s milk to consume, and she did. Thankfully she did not get sick at all. I also think that it depends upon the person, whether they have been brought up drinking raw milk (and therefore have immunity against potential bacteria in it). However, I will personally not take the risk of consuming raw milk, especially with the associated risks involved.

    • DeniseZhang 9:24 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think this post is really interesting. I personally appreciate the freshness of foods, therefore I like eating salads, raw oysters, sashimi, etc. However, when the same situation comes to milk, I will say no to unpasteurized or raw milk. I know that these fresh raw milk have a greater chance to contain pathogens and it has definitely more cons than pros.

      In the meanwhile, I somehow understand that the reason why the regulation of raw milk is not that restrict in Australia, as there is still large portion of people believe that drinking raw milk is better. Considered that, I think officials can make difference firstly by changing packages of raw milks and labelling them clearly. Then officials can work on letting public know more about the risks of consuming raw milk.

      Working step by step, I believe eventually people will start giving up drinking raw milk 😀

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