Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Click below for more information
Food Recall: Sanitarium So Good
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
For more information, click the link below
Food Recall: High Iodine in Dried Seaweed
Monday, November 7, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Click link below for more details
Food Recall: Toxic chemical in ChiTree Apricot Kernals
Friday, October 28, 2011
Food Recall: Microbial spoilage in Devondale UHT Milk
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The incorrect packaging has been used resulting in products being packaged as "Choc Cherry Slice" and "Choc Chip Flapjack Slice", however Choc Slice and Coconut Slice are the products actually packed.
These products have been distributed and sold through Coles Supermarkets in Australia.
Food Recall: Undeclared Allergens in Coles Supermarket Cake
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Bundaberg Burgundee Creaming Soda (340mL) is currently being recalled due to an increased pH level in the product, causing fermentation and an increased risk of product shattering. There is the potential for injury due to an increased risk of the product shattering.
Visit Salamanda Food for more information
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Little Creatures Brewing Pty Ltd—Pale Ale Pint, Bright Ale Pint and The Dreadnaught Single Batch Pint
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Avoiding chemical contamination of food product within your food business is not rocket science. It is common sense and basic food safety not to spray pest or cleaning chemicals directly onto the surface of the food....right? You would think so - but it is this very issue that has resulted in me issuing corrective action requests (CARs).
What went wrong?
There have been two separate food safety incidents of late. The first involved an abnormal chemical showing up on a laboratory report and the second actually occurred whilst I was standing observing a food handler undertake a cleaning activity.
Linking food safety laboratory results
An item of produce was tested for a range of pesticides as part of a routine food safety verification program. Product was sent to an external laboratory and tested for a range of different pesticides to confirm compliance with the law around MRL’s (maximum residue limits). It was from the laboratory report that a pesticide not usually associated with the produce was identified.
This chemical was later found to be the same as an active constituent found in common house ‘fly spray’. Cans of ‘fly spray’ were found around the produce packing rooms. So in short, food handlers were controlling flies in the packing area by the use of common fly-spray but did not consider the spray landing on food product.
On the second occasion, I was standing watching a food handler cleaning a piece of equipment. Cleaning chemical was being applied to the surface of a hot grill using a spray bottle. They continued to spray chemical onto the grill without any concern for the open cold storage server located right next to the grill.
You could actually see the chemical spray drifting and landing directly onto the freshly prepared salad and sandwich ingredients. When the food handler was questioned about their actions, they had no idea what they had done or what the food safety implications were.
Food Safety Lessons Learned
Hopefully from these two examples, you can avoid the simple food safety hazard of chemical contamination within your food business. It is also highly recommended that all food handlers are trained in the correct storage and use of chemicals. Take a minute to think about the use of chemicals in your business and if you have correctly assessed the risk in your HACCP hazard analysis.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The control of external documents is a requirement of the majority of food safety and quality standards including WQA, SQF and BRC. External documents are defined as being any document that comes into your business from an external source or a document that has not been developed directly by your food business.
As a food safety auditor, I see many different methods for the control of external documents. However, from an evidence base (proof to support compliance), a food business cannot go wrong with having an external document register.
The register should list the following:
- The name of the external document
- The source of the external document
- The date of the publication of external document
- The location of the external document (where is it stored within your food business)
- Certificate of Currency for your Liability Insurance
- Pest Control Bait Location Map
- Customer Requirements / Standard eg. BRC, SQF, WQA, Spotless, Cosco, McDonalds
- Chemical Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS’s)
- HACCP Training Certificates
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Cleaning is a basic requirement of the food industry but often one of the hardest requirements to achieve. All food law and customer standards require that the food business is clean, so what does clean actually mean? Clean means you can’t see it, you can’t feel it and you can’t smell it. To expand on this let me explain further.
You can’t see it
When you visually look at a food contact surface or another surface (say the floor), you cannot see any dirt, dust, food scraps or any other material - so visually it looks clean.
You can’t feel it
If you were to run your hand over a bench, you can’t feel any grit or granules. If you were to walk across a floor, the surface does not feel slippery or sticky.
You can’t smell it
If you were to say walk past a drain, you cannot smell any filthy, rotting or putrid smells. There should be no smells that would indicate spoilage of any sort.
So, if you want to avoid a host of problems that come with an unclean food premises (bacteria growth, slip and fall injuries, prosecution, foreign matter in your food and pest infestation) follow the three simple actions to ensure your place is clean.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Keeping up to date is essential in the food safety and quality arena. Knowledge of emerging trends in food safety hazards and changes in legal requirements is a must. As an auditor, we are required to undertake 6-monthly calibration training to ensure that we are up to date with the latest standards and their requirements.
Get in contact with previous businesses that the consultant has undertaken work for. Ask about how they found the consultant to work, what Criteria (Customer Standard) they consulted on and how the certification process went. It is also important to find out what the scope of the consultants work was.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The E.coli food poisoning outbreak in Germany is a timely reminder for food businesses to review their food safety hazard analysis tables. As it stands today, over 630 cases of HUS (Haemolytic uraemic syndrome and 1601 cases of EHEC (Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli) infections (without HUS) have been reported in Germany. Of these, 21 deaths have been recorded.
Food Safety Hazard Analysis
The majority of certification standards require the food business to keep up-to-date with new and emerging diseases along with reviewing their hazard analysis or food safety risk assessments on a regular basis.
Check that specifically E.Coli has been identified and assessed as opposed to just “microbiological hazards”. A common mistake by the food industry in the hazard analysis process is to not get specific with the actual type of microbiological hazard identified. This is important as one common “preventative measure” does not and will not control all different types of microbiological hazards.
Risk of E.Coli
The outbreak in Germany highlights the need to undertake a review for any food business that uses or processes fresh produce, seeds or sprouts (or anything that ordinates from soil or water). What is generally known about E.Coli is that it commonly found in the gut of humans and warm-blooded animals.
Although the source of the bacteria has not yet been identified in the outbreak, I suspect some type of cross contamination issue with faecal matter (maybe via fertiliser or watering).
If you would like to keep up to date with the E.Coli outbreak in Germany the World Health Organisation Media Centre is the place to look (http://www.who.int/en/).
Thursday, June 2, 2011
There seems to be several food recalls every week due to metal contamination in finished product. If a metal detector was in place and operational, how is it that product has been recalled for metal contamination?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
It is amazing the effect that a poorly written and executed recall plan can have on the credibility of a business. One of the world’s most popular brands is under the spot light after failing to notify the New Zealand Food Safety Authority that they had a problem.
Coca-Cola had been receiving customer complaints relating to white mould in its “Pumped” branded flavoured water since December 2010. It has been reported by New Zealand media that seventy-six (76) people had complained about the water with eleven (11) of those reporting experiencing symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.
Concern has been raised by the Authority around the time it took for Coca Cola to notify the issues they were having. A trade recall was initiated by the company back in December with full distribution stopped in January 2011. It was not until further complaints were received in February 2011 that notification to the Authority was made. Even then, it was not the company that notified but a marketing company who alerted government.
The basis of every product recall plan should be the action of notification. This particular recall has shown that particular elements of the recall process were not followed by Coca-Cola. Several other deficiencies were identified during the Food Safety Authority investigation including inconsistencies in company recall procedures.
So, based on this latest report, please consider the following questions for your food business:
- How good are your recall procedures?
- Have you ever conducted a review against legal requirements?
- How effective is your “mock recall” process in identifying problems?
- Did you actually rectify issues identified during your last “mock recall”?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Food Safety Standard 3.2.2 (Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code) requires all food businesses to notify their existence to the relevant authority.
What is a food business?
A food business is defined as any business, enterprise or activity that sells food or handles food intended for sale. This includes all commercial, charitable or community based businesses.
How were they identified?
The food activities of the business were uncovered as part of a food poisoning investigation. Over 50 consumers became ill after the catering event was held.
Court documents stated that after an extensive investigation was conducted by the public health unit it was found that “the severe illness affecting participants was indeed caused by salmonella, and those affected constituted a significant proportion of people who had participated in the event. Further, whilst the investigation revealed that there was considerable cross-contamination of various foodstuffs and the facilities in question, the source of the salmonella was able to be identified with a substantial level of certainty”.
Is your business next?
It is the food businesses responsibility to notify their existence to the relevant authority. In most cases, this will be either your local council or your State/Territory Food Authority or Health Department.
It is recommended that you keep a copy of your notification registration details to produce as required. This will include providing this information during your 3rd party certification audit as the majority of customer standards require you to comply with your food legal obligations.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The legal requirements for food handlers in regards to hand washing are documented the relevant food safety legislation applicable to your country location. Food handlers are generally required to wash their hands whenever they are likely to be a source of contamination.
This includes washing hands:
- Before working with ready-to-eat foods
- After handling raw food
- After using the toilet
- Before commencing and re-commencing handling food
- After smoking
- After coughing or sneezing
- After touching hair, scalp or a body opening
- After using a handkerchief or disposable tissue
- After eating or drinking
- After using tobacco or similar substances
- Use only the designated hand washing facilities provided
- Wash hands with warm running water and soap
- Only dry hands with single use or disposable towels
6 Step Hand Washing Technique
- Remove all rings and wet your hands with warm running water
- Put a small amount of liquid soap in the palm of one hand
- Rub your hands together for 20 seconds so you produce a lather
- Make sure you scrub between your fingers, under your finger nails and the backs of your hands.
- Rinse your hands with clean running water for at least 10 seconds. Try not to handle the taps once your hands are clean. The provision of hands - free taps helps to reduce post hand washing contamination.
- Dry your hands with a single use paper towel. Single use towels help to prevent the spread of germs. All used towels should be disposed of in the waste bin.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Over the years there has been a gradual shift from the use of symbols that represent certain production operations to the use of words. By documenting your flow process chart as a series of words, it helps to clearly indicate the steps in your process.
What is a HACCP Flow Chart?
A flow process chart is a pictorial representation of a process. Within the food industry, it generally represents all the steps that raw materials go through to become a finished product. Steps in a flow process chart can include Receival of raw materials, store of ingredients, preparation, cooking, cooling, packing, labelling, bulk storage and distribution. Depending on your process, you may have many more or less steps and types of steps than these listed.
Flow Chart Symbols
Traditionally, HACCP flow chart symbols have been used to illustrate the actions within a flow chart. The most common actions are shown below:
Flow Chart Text Boxes
It is more common now to use worded text boxes. This helps to give a better description of the process step and is more also easily understood. Text boxes also allow you to document as much detail about the process step as you need.
Whatever method you choose to use, the flow chart should clearly indicate all steps in the process. Please ensure that you consider steps involving re-work and services in eg. Water, compressed air (food safety hazards can be identified at these process steps). If you find that you have several processes within a process, a separate flow chart should be documented. Your first level document can be an overview with subsequent layers drilling down into each of these processes.
For more information and guidance on the flow process chart requirements, please check the HACCP certification standard which you have based your HACCP system on.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Prior to getting HACCP certification or certification to a customer standard, a food company may elect to have a HACCP GAP audit performed. In the majority of situations, food businesses elect to try to achieve HACCP certification in the first instance. Unfortunately, this is where the business fails. Not understanding the value of a HACCP GAP audit can have a significant effect on the food business. Let’s review the benefits of a HACCP GAP audit.
A Gap audit is the only situation where the food auditor can give some level of guidance. Auditor guidance at this stage can assist you and your business in fully understanding the requirements of HACCP or the customer standard that you are going to be later certified to.
A Gap audit allows an independent eye to look at your HACCP documentation, records and practices. You can then make applicable changes if needed, before your HACCP certification audit.
No corrective actions requests (CARs) are raised during a HACCP Gap audit. If you have performance indicators identified or bonus payments for “no CARs” in your position description, a HACCP GAP audit can save you explaining to management why you haven’t succeeded in your job role.
If it is your first HACCP audit, a Gap audit will allow you to get comfortable with the process in order to be prepared for your HACCP certification audit.
Identify process gaps
The whole idea of a HACCP GAP audit is to assess where your food business is situated in regards to compliance. The identification of the level or magnetite of GAP can assist you in determining resource allocation, certification timeframes and current / required compliance.
I would always recommend a GAP audit for any new standard that you may wish to obtain HACCP certification for. In the long run, it can save you and your food business a lot of time and money.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
With the recent nuclear disaster issues in Japan there have been many media reports concerning the safety of both the food and water supply. FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) have now taken this into consideration and requested that the regulator responsible for food importation in Australia, AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) to undertake testing of food products imported from Japan.
This action comes off the back of both the Japanese and Singapore governments detecting levels of radionuclide well above the international CODEX guidelines. Australia’s actions follow that of other countries, namely China and South Korea who have also scaled up their testing regimes.
At this stage, The World Health Organisation has reported that leafy green vegetables, milk, egg and meat products are the biggest concern for possible contamination. Eating food containing radioactive materials could increase the risks of certain cancers in the future.
A check of your raw materials and review of raw material specifications should aid in the identification of any products that may have been imported from Japan. Another area to check is if your food safety risk assessment has considered the likelihood and consequence of increased levels of particular chemicals outside of regulatory limits.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
There is much debate around whether to wear gloves or not during the food preparation and food handling process. It seems that every time I run a food safety training session someone always asks the question. Personally, I am not a big fan, but that is not to say there is not a time or place.
Gloves are great when used and managed correctly. By this I mean – treat the gloves as you would treat your own hands. When your hands have become contaminated you are required to wash them thoroughly. It is therefore expected that when the gloves are contaminated, they are replaced with a clean set. The current food laws within Australia do not stipulate that gloves must be worn. It does however state that your hands must be washed when contaminated and that you must also take all practical measures to prevent unnecessary contact with ready-to-eat food.
The majority of the customer standards that I audit against require that if gloves are going to be worn, they are a contrasting colour to that of the food that is being manufactured. Regardless of the colour, I see regular customer complaints where gloves have ended up in the finished product. If your company is using x-ray technology to assess foreign matter in finished product, please be mindful to include pieces of glove in the verification process. If not, company GMP programs need to ensure control and appropriate disposal of gloves.
What is your stance on gloves used in food manufacturing? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
There are many people (myself included) that use this food labelling in the quest to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. The nutritional data allows an informed decision to be made by the consumer around whether or not to eat the product. The majority of standards (and the law) requires the food company to provide the consumer with the nutritional data of the product. There are two ways in which nutritional information can be worked out. The first way is to have a sample of the actual food sent to a laboratory and analysed. The second way, and most common method, is to calculate the information based on the raw materials and product recipe. The calculation method is definitely more cost effective if there are a large number of products requiring nutritional information.
There are free calculators and paid calculators available for the food industry to use. The FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) calculator can be accessed for free at Nutrition Panel Calculator. I prefer to use a program called Foodworks to calculate both nutritional information and ingredient listings.
Whatever program that you decide to use please make sure the information you are producing is accurate. Remember, people are making dietary decisions based on the information that is provided on the product labelling. In the coming weeks we will host a webinar on how to calculate your nutritional information correctly. To register your interest please contact us.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Today I find myself having extra work generated for me due to a customer accusation made against one of my clients. The basis of the story is - customer buys product, customer gets sick (alleged), customer wants a response or some type of “reimbursement” or they threaten to go to the Health Department.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Food safety hazards can be categorised as being microbiological, chemical and physical. At a minimum, the HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) concept requires the identification and control of food safety hazards.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
After 17 years of auditing regulatory, compliance and certification standards, I have often reflected on why one company can obtain a good audit result when another company performs poorly. What I have observed is that there are common practices that have contributed to both successful audit outcomes and failures.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
The presence of pests within food premises is not a given and this attitude held by many food businesses needs to change. Failure to maintain adequate pest control may result in your business being fined, prosecuted or ending up on a “Name and Shame” database.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
When I audit, I get asked all these weird and wonderful questions by Quality Assurance Managers and food business owners that the majority of the time I think are pretty straight forward. I think from working in food compliance auditing I automatically assume that everyone knows what I know (because I don't think it is rocket science!). After 18 years doing this gig, I have finally got it that people don't. It is not through lack of intelligence, just lack of time and priority.
I live and breathe this food safety and compliance stuff and I am very very passionate about it. I am also very passionate about trying to help small business to be aware of their business risks in regards to food safety, quality and compliance. So hence starting this blog.
I hope to bring you insight into my world and hopefully you will learn stuff along the way. So without further to do, let's get started on this journey!