Botulism scare a false alarm for Fonterra

The batch of contaminated whey protein concentrate from dairy giant Fonterra has turned out to have been wrongly identified as a potentially causing botulism.

Acting director for the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, Scott Gallacher said that testing completed both in New Zealand and the United States indicated that the organism in question was in fact clostridium sporogenes – which is usually associated with food spoilage and holds no food safety risk, the Weekly Times Now reports.

Fonterra raised the alarm earlier this month in belief that five batches of the contaminated whey product – which is used in the company’s infant baby formula products and sports drinks – could contain a bacterium capable of causing the potentially fatal paralytic illness.

The alarm led to a widespread recall around the globe with several countries halting supply of the company’s products.

Gary Romano, managing director of Fonterra also resigned from his position a few weeks after the botulism scare was announced.

The Ministry of Primary Industries stated that while the botulism scare appeared to be a false alarm, hygiene issues relating to the processing of whey protein concentrate ‘remains a concern for customers’.

The pipe which has been identified as the cause of the contamination has since been decommissioned.


Microbial contamination prompts milk recall

Schulz Organic Farms Full Cream milk is being recalled in Victoria due to  a form of microbial contamination which can cause illness in pregnant women, the elderly and those will low immune systems.

The product, contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, has been recalled from small independent supermarkets and small health foods shops in Victoria.

One and two litre bottles with a use by date of 22 August, 2013 have been affected and consumers who are in possession of the milk are advised to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Fonterra faces new milk contamination scare in Sri Lanka

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has entered more hot water over another milk contamination scare, this time in Sri Lanka.

The company has recalled two batches of milk powder due to allegations that the products had been contaminated with a farm chemical – Dicyandiamide (DCD) which is used to increase agricultural yields The Australian reports.

Fonterra has denied that its products contain any trace of DCD, however The Sri Lankan government has ordered the recall as it considers DCD to be a potentaily ‘toxic chemical’.

The DCD contamination scare follows a recent recall of Fonterra’s Karicare baby formula which contained whey protein concentrate that had been contaminated with a bacterium that can cause botulism – a potentially fatal paralytic illness.

It was reported that 38 tonnes of the whey protein concentrate which was manufactured at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in May 2012, was contaminated by an unsanitary pipe.

It is believed that were five batches of the contaminated baby formula in total, each of which have now been located.


Fonterra issues contamination warning for infant formula

Dairy giant Fonterra warned on Saturday that an ingredient used in its baby formula products and sports drinks could potentially be fatal.

The whey protein concentrate could contain a bacterium that can cause botulism – a potentially fatal paralytic illness the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

There is believed to be five batches of the contaminated product, three which are currently being warehoused in Auckland, one in Australia and another in transit.

Parents in both New Zealand and Australia have been urged to not stop using the product, Nutricia Karicare Follow-On formula, immediately.

A statement released by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said that the department was aware of a possible contamination of a dairy food ingredient which was exported to Australia and are ‘‘working closely with New Zealand authorities to identify any food safety implications for consumers in Australia’’.

It is reported that 38 tonnes of the whey protein concentrate which was manufactured at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in May 2012, was contaminated by an unsanitary pipe.

Fonterra initially identified an issue in March this year after a product tested positive for Clostridium, (many stains of which Fonterra says are harmless to human health) however a positive test for clostridium botulinum was recorded on Wednesday last week.

“Food safety is Fonterra’s number one priority. We take matters of public health extremely seriously and we are doing everything we can to assist our customers in ensuring any product containing this ingredient is removed from the marketplace and that the public is made aware,” said Theo Spierings, Fonterra’s Chief Executive.  

“We are acting quickly. Our focus is to get information out about potentially affected product as fast as possible so that it can be taken off supermarket shelves and, where it has already been purchased, can be returned,”

“We are working closely with New Zealand’s regulatory authority – the Ministry for Primary Industries – to keep New Zealand and offshore regulators informed.”

Nutricia Karicare is imported to Australia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.


Asian chocolate bars recalled

Beng Beng chocolate bars, sold in Asian grocery stores across the country, are being recalled due to the presence of undeclared allergens.

Carefour is recalling Beng Beng bars in a 500g red and yellow cardboard box containing 25 bars with a best before date up to and including February 2014.

The bars are recalled due to the presence of milk and soy, which aren't listed on the label.

Consumers are able to return the chocolate bars to the place of purchase for a full refund.


Fonterra recalls processed cheese

Fonterra is recalling a slice cheese product in New Zealand, amid reports plastic is sticking to the cheesse once it's unwrapped.

According to, Fonterra has voluntarily recalled its Mainland Tasty Individually Wrapped Flavoured Processing Cheese Slices 250g with a best before date of 8 February, 2014. The slices have been sold in New Zealand's North Island and also in Fiji.

The recall came after two reported incidents of thin strips of plastic sticking to the cheese.

Fonterra Brands NZ sales director, Baden Ngan Kee, said "The plastic wrapping of individual slices may split into thin strips causing a potential hazard if consumed. There have been no reports of anyone being harmed."

Consumers should not eat the product but should return it to the point of purchase for a full refund.

Veal ravioli recalled for labelling error

Australasian Fresh has recalled Alligator Brand Veal Ravioli from Costco stores in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand was notified of the recall on April 11.

The NSW Food Authority said the reason for the recall is due to an undeclared allergen (soy) because of a labelling error.

The recalled product is the 1 kilogram (2×500 packets) vacuum-sealed plastic tray.

“The recall only applies to the product with the details above,” a Food Authority statement said.

Products with use by dates up to and including 8/05/13 have been recalled.

“People with an allergy or intolerance to soy should not consume this product as they may have a reaction if the product is consumed,” the Authority said.

Consumers can return the product to the place of purchase and ask for a full refund.

Another shellfish contamination scare in TAS

Sixty people have fallen sick after eating contaminated oysters in southern Tasmania.

They were infected by norovirus after eating the oysters. Norovirus often causes gastroenteritis.

All oysters from Barilla Bay Seafoods have been recalled from the market after health authorities identified the outbreak on Tuesday.

According to, no one was hospitalised but some visited doctors and went to the Royal Hobart emergency department.

Barilla Bay Oysters general manager Justin Goc said the company is working closely with the Director of Public Health, Dr Roscoe Taylor on the matter.

No oyster products from Barilla Bay Oyster have been sold by Mure’s Lower Deck since March 30.

He has asked the public to throw any oysters they bought from the company on or before March 31, or from Mure’s Lower Deck between March 28 and March 30.

God said the oysters at lease 113 at Dunalley were exposed to an external environmental contamination and this issue is isolated to this lease.

The company will conduct a survey of the lease to examine the source of the contamination.

This is the second case of contaminated oysters in Tasmania in a week. Several people became ill last Thursday after eating oysters bought in south eastern Tasmania.

But health authorities have said the two cases are a coincidence.

These are not the first cases of shellfish contamination in Tasmania this year. In February, shellfish in Great Oyster Bay were tested after the return of a toxin-producing algal bloom, which damaged fisheries last year.

In November last year, Spring Bay Seafood’s shellfish farm in Tasmania closed, with Food Standards Australia New Zealand recalling its mussels. The mussels contained a paralytic shellfish toxin.

Cheese company recalls feta products

A South Australian cheese company recalled several feta products after failing an E. Coli bacterium test.

Alexandrina Cheese Company recalled four feta cheese products that were sold in stores across South Australia and Alice Springs from March 15, the ABC reported.

The cheeses were recalled from fruit and vegetable shops, Foodworks, IGA and other independent supermarkets.

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) was informed of the recall on March 29.

The products recalled were Marinated Feta (Mustard Seed), Marinated Feta (Chilli), Fleurieu Feta Vacuum Pack and Fleurieu Feta in Brine.

The FSANZ said customers who bought the products should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Kit Kat’s recalled in nine countries

Kit Kat is recalling seven of varieties of chocolate bars after seven people reported finding small pieces of plastic in the bars.

The recall affects 48g size bars in Peanut Butter, Hazelnut, Choc Fudge and Caramel flavours and Kit Kat Chunky Collection Giant Eggs.

Whilst originating in the UK, the recall also affects:

  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Malta
  • Austria
  • Singapore
  • Philippines
  • Canada
  • Ireland

“Seven consumers in the UK have told us they found a piece of plastic in the product.” said Nestle in a statement.

“So far, we have not received any other similar complaints, but to avoid any risk whatsoever to our consumers, we have decided to voluntarily recall the entire production of these four Kit Kat Chunky varieties and Kit Kat Chunky Collection Giant Egg manufactured from September 2012.”

“The safety and quality of our products are non-negotiable priorities for the company. We sincerely apologize to our consumers for any inconvenience caused by this voluntary recall.”

The recall will not affect Australia.

Previously Nestle has recalled Milkybar Buttons after rubber contamination in 2011, and contaminated cookie dough in 2009



Almonds contaminated with Salmonella recalled Australia-wide

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) have issues a recall on Woolworths’ and Flannerys’ private label raw almonds over salmonella contamination.

FSANZ has urged consumers to check their pantries for the raw almonds sold as Woolworths Almond Kernals and Flannerys Own Almonds, supplied by Select Harvests, after almost 30 cases of salmonella were linked to the product.

The potentially dangerous Woolworths almond kernels have best before dates of 05/02/13, 06/04/13, 07/04/13, 12/04/13 and those sold as Flannerys came in 500g and 1kg bags with best before dates between 02/07/13 and 05/10/13.

There have been 27 confirmed or suspected cases of salmonellosis linked to the recalled products throughout Australia.

FSANZ Deputy Chief Executive Officer Melanie Fisher said state, territory and federal government authorities are currently investigating an outbreak.

“There have been two recalls associated with this outbreak, one conducted nationally by Woolworths and one in southeast Queensland by Flannerys ” she said, adding that consumers should check the brand of almonds in their pantry and if the product had been recalled they should either dispose of any remaining product or return packets to the place of purchase for a full refund.

It has also been advised that if consumers have almonds in their pantry in containers and are unsure of the source then they should consider disposing of the product.

“The food recalls were notified earlier this month but we want to ensure consumers are carefully checking their pantries as packaged raw almonds are often bought to use later,” she said.

Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most people recover within a few days, but the condition can be deadly for children under five years of age, older people and people with weak immune systems.

FSANZ has advised that anyone who has become ill from eating raw almonds should consult a doctor and consumers with the potentially contaminated products should not consume them, but rather dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.


Drinking chocolate recalled; milk content not declared

Valvorp Fine Foods has recalled its 1963 Drinking Chocolate nationally, after failing to declare the product contained milk.

The drinking chocolate has been recalled from Myer, Harvey Norman and The Good Guys around the country, where 20g sachets are used in product demonstrations.

The 200g cardboard boxes of concern each contain 10 of the sachets with date markings 21/02/2013, 22/02/2013 and 23/02/2013 and Australia listed as the country of origin.

Due to an error on the labelling, milk has not been included in the ingredients list, and allergen information has also not been printed.

Consumers with a milk allergy or intolerance should not consume the product.

It can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

FSANZ recalls yeast products over salmonellosis concerns

Australia’s food safety watchdog has issued a warning to food businesses not to use two direct order yeast products.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has warned that the Tempeh Starter Yeast and Super Starter Yeast have been recalled over cases of salmobellosis in the products in the US.

Tempeh, a fermented bean product, is made with the recalled yeast products.

Symptoms if salmonellosis include severe headache, high fever, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

The foodborne illness is more dangerous in young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

The products of concern have been distributed to Australia via direct mail order or online by a US-based company,

The company distributes the products globally.

The products were sold in sealed, clear plastic packages that bear a small computer printed label of 30gm, 50gm, 250gm and 1000gm’s.

The recall applies to all batches and sizes of the two recalled products.

FSANZ advises that anyone who may have purchased these products not to use them and to discard them. 

Anyone who is concerned they may have used or consumed the products are advised to seek medical advice.

Image: HACCP Food

Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner. And Detergent. And Explosives. And Floor Wax.

When a cow tested positive for mad cow disease in America for the first time since 2006, the USDA announced Tuesday.

Officials were quick to assure the public that the slaughtered former dairy cow was located at a rendering plant, and that its flesh was never going to enter the human food supply.

If you’re not going to eat a dead cow’s meat, what are you supposed to do with it?

Make pet food, floor wax, and explosives, among many other things. Rendering plants take animals or animal parts that are unsuitable for human consumption and separate them into two streams: fat and protein.

There are innumerable uses for those basic building blocks.

Most of the dry, proteinaceous matter is sprinkled onto livestock feed as a nutritional supplement.

(Cattle protein cannot be fed to other cattle due to concerns over mad cow disease, but farmers do feed it to other animals.)

As for the liquid fat and oil, some enters the livestock food chain along with the protein—it increases caloric content and reduces the dustiness of plain corn or soy feed.

A large portion of the liquids, however, are sold on to refineries that reduce them into chemicals to make crayons, shaving cream, detergent, and a long list of other products.

Glycerin, one of the many chemicals that can be derived from cow fat, is an ingredient in dynamite.*

In recent years, rendered cow fat has been increasingly used to make biofuels, and researchers are experimenting with adding animal byproducts to concrete and plastics.

Americans produce an astonishing quantity of cow leftovers. U.S. slaughterhouses kill more than 34 million cattle annually, with each individual weighing approximately 1,250 pounds.

Humans are only willing to eat 51 percent of a cow or bull’s body, leaving behind 10.5 million tons of hide, hair, hoofs, horns, bones, blood, and glands to deal with.

That back-of-the-envelope calculation is likely an underestimate of the total cattle rendering stream, though, because many diseased cattle are discarded and rendered in their entirety.

(The animal identified this week seems to have fallen into this category, although there is no indication that it was showing any particular signs of mad cow disease prior to slaughter.)

Leftover cow parts like hooves and hair aren’t worth very much in their whole form, so renderers grind them into a paste or powder and load that into a cooking vessel at a steady rate while 300-degree heat, pressure, and steam break it down.

The renderer might add other, non-animal waste products into the cauldron, such as used vegetable oil. Around one-half of the paste is water, which cooks off during this process.

The lumpy soup that emerges from the other end of the cooker is then separated into liquid fats and solid proteins, using either a centrifuge or a press.

A small amount of rendered beef ends up in human food.

The now notorious “pink slime” that many food chains had been putting into their products is made of fat that has been trimmed from beef and put through the rendering process.

The USDA monitors rendered-cow byproducts intended for human consumption more closely than floor-wax-to-be.

While many Americans find the process foul, and some worry about the industry’s safety, renderers argue that their work provides a use for a potentially enormous waste stream.

It also lends a small economic boost to ranchers. Cattle byproducts sell for 37 cents per pound (about 13 percent as much as a farmer gets for beef).

This article originally appeared on Slate. View the full article here.

Aussie beef producers prepare for high demand following US mad cow disease outbreak

Indonesia has suspended some beef imports from the US following the detection of mad cow disease in California, and Australian producers are hoping to benefit from the incident with increased exports.

The Indonesian government confirmed it would be suspending US beef imports and two major South Korean retailers, Homeplus and Lotte Mart – immediately halted sales of the products as the news of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) case broke.

Indonesia has suspended imports of boned meat and innards from US beef but boneless meat remains unaffected.

"We have decided to stop importing bone meal, innards and boned meat from the United States, but imports of boneless meat will continue," Indonesia’s deputy agriculture minister Rusman Heriawan said.

"The suspension starts today, but we don’t know how long it will remain in effect," he said, adding that shipments en route will not be affected.

Only a small amount of Indonesia’s beef imports come from the US, and most come from Australia and New Zealand.

Indonesia has suspended some beef imports from the US following the detection of mad cow disease in California, and Australian producers are hoping to benefit from the incident with increased exports.

However, the outbreak in 2006 was much larger than the latest one, which has only been detected in a single cow.

The US has proclaimed that the detection of the disease during routine inspections highlights an effective testing process, and no other animals have been found to have the disease.

But in the case of mad cow disease, many countries will exercise caution and halt imports until the storm passes.

Canada and Japan have said they will continue to import US beef and head of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association Luke Bowen told The ABC that while Australian producers are sympathetic to the American predicament, they also hope the outbreak will benefit them again as it did previously.

US beef exports dropped by almost $3 million following the first outbreak of mad cow disease in 2003.

"Certainly when the cases in early 2000 broke out in Canada and the US and in Europe there was a large void in those Japanese and Korean markets, which Australia was able to fill, and the Americans have only just started to claw back some of those gains that Australia made through that period," Bowen said.

"And we’ve also seen a free-trade agreement signed between America and Korea which has strengthened their trading position as well, so clearly the Americans would have a lot to lose if they were to lose access to those markets."

BSE is highly contagious between animals, and is thought to have caused over 200 human deaths worldwide.

Image: Department of Primary Industries

US mad cow disease discovery shows good systems in place: animal groups

The discovery of mad cow disease in the US is a positive occurrence, according to some animal groups.

The United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) believe that the find shows the country’s health monitoring system is working.

“This detection demonstrates that the national surveillance system is efficient,” the OIE said.

“This case should not have implications for the current U.S. risk categorization.”

This is the first detected case of mad cow disease in the US since a mass outbreak in 2006.

The first case was discovered in 2003, on an animal that came from Canada, and since then three other herds were found to be affected.
FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth said importers of US beef should be encouraged by the discovery of the disease before it entered the food chain.
“The fact that the U.S. picked it up before it entered the food chain and the fact that they were transparent should give more confidence to the trading partners, not less,” Lubroth said.
“However, I do see that sometimes countries take measures that are not based on science and that we do not support.”

Local authorities say the infected cow, from California, will not pose a threat to the nation’s food supply.

The tested positive during a routine check for the illness, or atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported.

The USDA’s chief veterinarian John Clifford said the disease didn’t enter the human food chain and has not been detected in any other animals.

USDA statements say steps taken by U.S. authorities in the case are in line with OIE standards.

“The fact that it was picked up before anything entered the food chain is significant,” Lubroth said. “It shows that the surveillance systems in place have done their job.”

About 40,000 cows are randomly tested each year in the US, which represents less than 0.1 percent of the entire number, and these regimes are not rigid enough to ensure diseased cows don’t get into the food supply, according to Michael Hansen, a staff scientist at Yonkers, New York-based advocacy group Consumers Union.

John West tinned tuna variety recalled after glass fragments found in product

A line of John West tinned tuna sold in Australian supermarkets, after glass fragments were found in the product.

The 95 gram tins of John West Tuna Tempters Sweet Seeded Mustard with the batch code ‘4ER12’ are sold in Woolworths, Coles, IGA, Franklins and other independent supermarkets.

The product, produced by Victorian-based Simplot Australia, a subsidiary of American food company Simplot, can be returned to the point of purchase for a full refund.

It is not clear at this stage how the glass fragments ended up in the tuna tins.