Aussie beef ruled out in Japanese E coli outbreak

Posted by Rita Mu

Japanese health authorities have ruled out Australian beef as the source of a recent E coli outbreak, which left at least 15 people ill.

On 6 May, 20 people who had dined at Korean-style barbecue restaurants in Japan’s Toyama prefecture were reported sick, with 15 of the victims falling sick from O157, a strain of E coli.

The owners of the Korean restaurant suggested Australian beef as the source of contamination. 

However, Meat and Livestock Australia’s Regional Manager Melanie Brock told ABC News Online today that investigations carried out by Japanese health authorities revealed no traces of E coli contamination in Australian beef.

The outbreak in Japan follows a recent situation in Europe, where more than 1000 people in 11 countries fell sick from E coli contamination. According to ABC News Online, 23 people have so far died from the outbreak in Europe.

Experts have said the E coli strands in Europe and in Japan are different.

The sources of E coli contamination in both regions are currently under investigation.  


Live Australian cattle trade under scrutiny

Posted by Rita Mu

Australia’s live cattle trade to Indonesia has been subject to scrutiny and criticism in the past week, after an ABC Four Corners program revealed gross mistreatment and inhumane slaughtering of cattle in Indonesian abattoirs.

The program, aired last Monday, showed confronting footage of distressed Australian cattle being roped by their feet, kicked at, and their throats being cut with a rough sawing action, which severe the animals’ heads but leaves them alive.

The program has triggered rage from the general public and animal welfare groups, who are pressuring the Federal Government to take action and stop live cattle exports to Indonesia.

The Federal Department of Agriculture announced the launch of an investigation into the issue last week.

“We share the concern of the community and are working closely with animal welfare groups and the live animal export industry,” Secretary Conall O’Connell said in a statement.

“The department was in contact with the ABC, Animals Australia and the RSPCA yesterday to request all available footage to inform its investigation.

“As directed by the minister, we are investigating all legislative and regulatory options available to the minister to improve animal welfare in the trade.”

The Minister for Agriculture, Senator Joe Ludwig, has asked that orders be prepared to enforce the complete suspension of live animal exports to the abattoirs identified in the Four Corners program.

Minister Ludwig will also appoint an independent reviewer to investigate the complete supply chain for live exports up to and including the point of slaughter.

The ABC Four Corners program, A Bloody Business, can be viewed HERE

Anyone is who is concerned about this issue can call: 1800 808 869.


Factory in China suspected of using plasticiser in food additives

Posted by Rita Mu

A preserved fruits manufacturer in China has been detained by police after the company was suspected of using an industrial chemical in its food additives.

According to Ninemsn, local officers seized six tonnes of food additives, suspected to contain the plastic softener DEHP, from the Yuyan Food Co factory in Dongguang City, Guangdon province, on Wednesday.

Officials suspect the contamination came from raw materials imported from Taiwan.

According to Xinhua news agency, the State Food and Drug Administration has issued an urgent notice, ordering all restaurants not to purchase or use food and food additives imported from the country.

DEHP, which has been linked to hormonal problems in children, has so far been reported in sports drinks, fruit juice, tea, jam and food additives in China and Taiwan.

According to Xinhua news agency, 496 bottles of Taiwanese beverages suspected of containing DEHP in the Guangdong Province and 1,500 bottles of Taiwan beverages that were not quarantined after arriving in the province, have been recalled.


Aussie beef may have been contaminated with E coli overseas, MLA says

Posted by Rita Mu

Australian beef may have been involved in the recent E coli outbreak in Japan, but contamination is likely to have occurred overseas during processing, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) have said.

MLA Regional Manager Melanie Brock said an investigation to find the source of the E coli outbreak in Japan was currently underway.

"At this stage what we need to determine is at exactly at what point the contamination has taken place," she told ABC News Online.

"We believe it has taken place during processing in Japan of Australian beef, but it’s still very early here. We’re working through the details."


Aussie beef could be linked to E coli outbreak

Posted by Rita Mu

A new E coli outbreak in Japan, which has left 15 people ill, is suspected to have come from beef imported from Australia.

According to ABC News Online, 20 people were reported sick in the Toyama prefecture on 6 May, with 15 of them falling sick from O157, a strain of E coli.

The victims were affected after eating at the Korean-style barbeque restaurant chain, Gyukaku, according to ABC News Online. REINS International, the operator of the Gyukaku chain, said it suspected the infections might have been caused by Australian beef imports.

The company reportedly changed its Australian supplier, but a public health inspection found no traces of E coli bacteria in the affected restaurant. 

The incident in Japan follows a recent E coli outbreak in Europe. Last week, Food Magazine reported that more than 300 people in north Germany fell ill after an outbreak of E coli, which was initially suspected to have come from Spanish cucumbers. Health officials have now rejected the cucumber claim and are investigating other potential origins of the outbreak.

The food-borne bacteria, which is a different strain to the one in Japan, has also been detected in other European countries including Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.

According to the World Health Organisation, the E. coli strain in Europe is rare.

ABC News Online reported that a toll compiled by AFP from national health authorities revealed more than 2,000 people across Europe have fallen sick from E coli since the attack in Germany.

More information about E coli is available HERE.


Nestlé opens new Maggi seasoning production line in China

Posted by Rita Mu

Nestlé has installed a new seasoning production line at its Maggi factory in Dongguan, northwest of Hong Kong in China.

The new production line will produce a range of seasonings, flavourings and soups under the Maggi brand.

According to Nestlé, the installation of the seasoning line marks the completion of the first phase of its CHF 44 million (~AU $47,000,000) expansion project. Part of this project will be to boost the factory’s annual production capacity of liquid seasonings by 1700 tonnes.

Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Greater China Region, Roland Decorvet, said an increased consumer demand for Maggi products had triggered the company to expand its production facilities.

Maggi seasoning has been very popular for both professional and household cooking,” Decorvet said.  “It provides a preferred solution for delicious, nutritious and convenient food.  This much-needed expansion project will enable us to meet the increasing market demand for this product.”

The Maggi brand is Nestlé’s second major brand to be manufactured in China. The first is the company’s coffee brand Nescafé.

The expansion project will be completed in 2015, with the factory’s production capacity expected to increase by 300 per cent upon completion.

Image:  Jiang Ling, Vice Mayor of Dongguan City Guangdong Province, left, and Roland Decorvet, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Greater China Region. Source:

Dutch baker opens factory in China as customers flock to Asia

Posted by Rita Mu

Dutch company, CSM, is increasing its presence in the Asian bakery market with the opening of a new factory in China.

The company’s Shanghai facility, which will produce mixes for bread, cake and muffins, will service markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The new facility was officially opened on Friday, 13 May, by Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Maxime Verhagen.

Chief Executive of CSM, Gerard Hoetmer, said the opening of a new facility in Asia was critical for the company because its global customers had begun expanding into China.

“China is a very promising market for bakery products,” Hoetmer said.

"…The economic growth [of China] is driving domestic consumption. This new production facility significantly increases our reach to the marketing Greater China. We have started our presence in China with products sourced from our North American and European businesses. With this local production, we can better tailor our local product portfolio to local requirements and respond faster to customers’ needs.”

CSM Bakery Supplies has operations in 22 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia, generating annual sales of € 2.6 billion with a workforce of around 8,600 people.


Fonterra to complete purchase of Brazilian dairy farm

Posted by Rita Mu

New Zealand-based dairy company, Fonterra, is in its final stages of completing the purchase of an 850-hectare farm in the mid-west of Goias State in Brazil.

The company has signed a conditional sale and purchase agreement for the farm, which is expected to feature a pilot dairy facility with two milking platforms with a herd of 3,300 cows.

Chief Executive Andrew Ferrier said Fonterra’s investment in the farm would be the first step in developing a source of fresh milk in Brazil to support Dairy Partners Americas (DPA), Fonterra’s South American joint venture with Nestlé.

“We have already invested through DPA in helping to improve the efficiency of dairy farming in Brazil,” Ferrier said. “This pilot project will allow us to develop and test the right model for our own dairy farming operation.”

“Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy, with 200 million people. The growing and increasingly prosperous population is driving strong demand for fresh dairy products. This demand will be met by milk produced locally.”

According to Ferrier, global demand for dairy products is forecast to rise steadily.

“Demand for dairy around the world is growing by 2 per cent per annum,” Ferrier said.

“New Zealand milk will always be our top priority. While New Zealand milk production is forecast to grow at a long term average of two to three per cent – we are looking offshore to supplement this and ensure we meet the growth potential for dairy globally.

 “Developing sustainable, high quality milk supply for key customers in rapidly developing economies such as Brazil and China is a powerful way of achieving our strategy of being the natural source of dairy nutrition for everybody, everywhere, every day.

“We are sourcing more milk overseas – 6.6 billion litres last year, or around 31 per cent of our total.  Our international farming operations are in line with this strategy of complementing New Zealand milk.”

In addition to the Brazilian dairy farm, Fonterra is conducting a feasibility study into a potential large-scale joint venture dairy farm in India.

In 2007, Fonterra established a Tangshan Fonterra Farm in China, which consisted of 6000 cows. Last year, the company announced plans to develop a second farm in Yutian County.

The company is expecting the sale of the Brazilian farm to be completed next month.


Beer PET bottles to reach 7.7 billion by 2015: Study

Posted by Rita Mu

Global PET beer bottle consumption is forecast to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.3 per cent to reach 7.7 billion bottles by 2015, according to a new study by market research group Pira International.

The Future of Beer in PET Packaging study, conducted for beer brewers, packaging manufactures and suppliers, provides quantitative market sizes segmented by barrier technology, bottle size, region and country. The study also provides technology and market forecasts to 2015.

One of the main drivers for the increased use of PET bottles for packaging beer will be market penetration into areas not suitable for glass, according to the study.

While Central and Eastern Europe are currently the dominant markets for PET beer bottles, the study also shows good growth for beer in PET bottles going forward, but at rates lower than the 2003-08 pre-recession era. This is a result of higher taxes on beer in Russia and Ukraine, according to the study.

PET beer bottle consumption in Western Europe, North America and South and Central America, is forecast to grow as well in the next five years until 201, but at a relatively low rate.

In Asia-Pacific, China will lead demand for beer in PET bottles.

"PET is showing increased demand from a number of different categories including juices and nectars, ready-to-drink (RTD) teas, functional drinks, flavoured waters and beer. PET bottles are convenient, practical, lightweight and unbreakable," Head of Editorial at Pira, Adam Page, said.

"However many brand owners remain reticent when it comes to using PET packaging for beer. Despite not taking off on a large scale in many traditional beer-drinking countries, there is still a huge amount of interest in the potential for beer in PET due to the perceived advantages. New technologies are helping challenge some negative perceptions and create opportunities for brewers, brand owners, packaging converters and suppliers."


Fonterra report record export as Asian demand increases

Fonterra has claimed a strong Asian demand has helped generate record dairy export.

The Kiwi company said it exported 229,000 tonnes of dairy products in March.

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Trade and Operations Gary Romano said: “The real driver for the export record is the ongoing strong demand from China, South East Asia and the Middle East.

“In these regions, we are seeing the emergence of the middleclass with more discretionary income and a desire for more nutritious foods. Dairy fits the bill.”


Image courtesy of

Nestlé to build $37m cereal factory in Malaysia

Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW), a joint venture between Nestlé and General Mills, will invest CHF 35 million (~AU $37 million) over two years in the construction of a new breakfast cereals factory in Malaysia.

The factory, which is due to begin production in 2012, will manufacture Nestlé breakfast cereal brands Koko Krunch, Honey Stars, Cookie Crisp, Koko Krunch Duo and Milo, for consumers in Malaysia, and for export to Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.

Located in Chembong, Negeri Sembilan, the 6,500 metre square factory will enable the local production of Nestlé breakfast cereals for the first time in Malaysia, which are currently being imported.

Nestlé’s Executive Vice President and Zone Director for Asia, Frits van Dijk, said the company selected Malaysia to build its cereal facility based on the readily available local ingredients.

“Having a factory in Negeri Sembilan also means that we are producing the breakfast cereals right here in Malaysia, which is one of the most important markets in the region,” van Dijk said. “This will create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, so benefiting Malaysian society.”

The new factory, which will source up to 80 per cent of its raw materials from local suppliers, will be built based on policies for environmental sustainability adopted by both partners in the CPW venture, and in full compliance with environmental legislation.

The new factory will be the third CPW cereals production centre in Asia, as Nestlé breakfast products in the region continue to increase in popularity.

The two other factories are in Lipa, in the Philippines, and in Tianjin, China. They will maintain existing production capacities for their respective domestic markets, as well as for export to other Asian countries.

The new factory will be built next to an existing Nestlé factory in Chembong, which produces popular confectionery brands including Kit Kat.

Image: Cookie Crisp: one of five best-selling Nestlé cereal brands to be manufactured at the new Cereal Partners Worldwide factory in Malaysia, Source:

Milk scare in China’s south-west

Posted by Rita Mu

Police have seized 26 tonnes of melamine-tainted milk powder from an ice-cream manufacturer in Chongqing, south-west China.

Melamine is an industrial chemical normally used in plastic production. 

According to media reports, the tainted powder is likely to have come from north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and has not filtered through to the consumer.

The Chongqing incident follows a food safety scare earlier this month in the north-western region of the country where milk was found tainted with nitrate and led to the death of three people and left 35 others seriously ill.

The latest seizure in Chongqing is the second time melamine-tainted milk has been found in the region. In 2008, three babies reportedly died and 300,000 others fell sick after milk was found contaminated with the chemical.

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, Chinese authorities issued an official regulation on levels of melamine in food products last Wednesday.

Under the new regulation, infant food products containing more than one milligram per kilogram of food will be prohibited from sale in China. The maximum tolerable level of melamine in other food products is 2.5 mg for per kg of food.

Image: Chinese families whose children died as a result of drinking milk contaminated with melamine protest in front of a government building in Beijing on May 8, 2009, Source:

Nestle acquires Chinese peanut drink manufacturer

Posted by Rita Mu

Nestlé is set to become a major player in China’s ready snacks sector with the recent acquisition of a Chinese food company that manufactures peanut milk drinks and canned rice porridge.

Nestlé settled the acquisition of 60 per cent of Yinlu Foods Group’s operations yesterday.

The family-owned business is a co-manufacturer for ready-to-drink Nescafé coffee in China and a well-established household brand in China. The peanut drink manufacturer’s sales amounted to around CHF 750 million (~AU $789 million) last year.

According to Nestlé, the acquisition of Yinlu complements the company’s existing product portfolio in China, which includes culinary products, coffee, confectionery, bottled water, milk powder and products for the foodservice industry.

“[The partnership] demonstrates our long-term investment in China and our commitment to further developing local brands,” Nestlé Chief Executive Paul Bulcke said.

Nestlé has said it will not disclose the acquisition price.

Nestlé’s products and manufacturing facilities have resided in China for more than twenty years. Currently the food giant operates 23 factories, two research centres and employs 14,000 people in the country.


Coca-Cola to boost bottled water supplies to Japan

Posted by Rita Mu

Coca-Cola began negotiations last week with its South Korean unit about importing emergency mineral water to areas of Japan where tap water supplies have been affected by radiation.





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Negotiations are underway to meet demands for clean water in the Tohoku and adjacent Kanto regions, two of the worst affected areas from the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

Radiation leaking from damaged nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant has contaminated the country’s food and tap water supplies, triggering a boom in bottled water sales. 

“Demand for bottled water has led to shortages across various supermarkets and even Japan’s ubiquitous convenience stores,” research analysts Kentaro Taniguchi and Tomoko Takanoura wrote in a Euromonitor International report on March 22. “Sales of bottled water may benefit from the expected shortage of potable water.”

According to Bloomberg, Coca-Cola may import one million cases of mineral water from South Korea to Japan. Bloomberg also reported that Nestle SA and Danone have both increased shipments of bottled water to Japan since the earthquake.

Other beverage companies including Suntory Holdings, Ito En and Kirin Beverage Co, have also increased imports of mineral water from Europe, according to Japan Today.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has asked the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to begin testing seafood, seaweed, milk, fruit and vegetables imported from Japan for radiation contamination.

The risk of Australian consumers being exposed to radionuclides in food imported from Japan is negligible, according to FSANZ.


FSANZ calls for halt on Japanese food imports

Posted by Rita Mu

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has requested the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to temporarily stop food imports from four of Japan’s prefectures that surround the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The call comes after the Japanese government placed new restrictions on certain foods sourced from areas of Japan contaminated by radiation. Traces of radiation exceeding national safety standards were detected this week in milk and spinach.

FSANZ has requested that milk and milk products, fresh fruit and vegetables, seaweed and fresh and frozen seafood from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi to be put on hold from entering Australia.

FSANZ said the move was only a precautionary measure because the chance of Australian consumers being exposed to radiation from food imported from Japan was negligible.

Nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant have been leaking radiation since the earthquake and tsunami devastated the country on 11 March. 

There are no current restrictions on flights and shipping to and from Japan.

More information about foods imported from Japan is available here.