No evidence Woolworths sold death cap mushrooms: ACT Health

Paul Kelly, ACT chief health officer, said there’s no evidence that supermarket giant Woolworths supplied the Death Cap mushrooms that have seen three people hospitalised recently.

Two people are in hospitals in Canberra and one in Sydney after eating the deadly fungus, the ABC reports.

The three victims are from the same household and claim they fell ill after eating the mushrooms which they say they bought from a Woolworths store in Dickson.

However ACT chief health officer, Paul Kelly, said there’s no evidence the mushrooms came from Woolworths, and the assumption at this stage is that the mushrooms were picked.

"There's plenty of mushrooms in and around Canberra, particularly inner Canberra, at the moment after all the rain we've had. So it seems like an honest mistake,” Kelly said.

Woolworths is working closely with ACT Health but said there have been no other reports of similar food poisoning incidences.

Death Cap mushrooms can easily be mistaken for other, safe to consume mushroom varieties, however if ingested can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, liver damage and even death.

In 2012, a chef and a kitchen hand died after consuming Death Cap mushrooms that were intended for use as part of a private New Year’s Eve dinner at a bistro in the Harmonie German Club in Canberra’s Narrabundah.

The restaurant's 38 year old chef Lui Jun and 52 year old kitchen hand Tsou Hsiang died from  eating a stir-fry containing the mushrooms.

 

Man injured in lift fall at NZ brewery

A man has been rushed to hospital in a serious condition after falling down a lift shaft at Dunedin’s Speight’s brewery.

According to stuff.co.nz, the man, a subcontractor for lift company, Kone, fell at around 9.10 this morning and had to be rescued by emergency services before being transported to hospital.

Dunedin organiser of the Service and Food Workers Union, Steven Briggs, said he isn’t aware of any safety issues at the brewery.

"This is the first time something like this has come up. Each time I've been visiting members at the plant they've been most careful."

A Speight’s spokesperson said the lift, located in the older part of the brewery, has been decommissioned.

An investigation into the incident has been commenced by Speight’s and Worksafe NZ.

 

Harvey Fresh employee falls to death

An employee of Western Australian beverage manufacturer, Harvey Fresh has died after falling in the company’s transport yard.

The family-owned business has launched an immediate investigation into the 16 February accident to determine what caused the employee to fall, The West reports.

The victim received first aid at the scene before being rushed to nearby Harvey Hospital.

“Our sincerest thoughts are with the family, friends and workmates during this difficult time,” said managing director of the company, Kevin Sorgiovanni.

“This is a tragic incident that will be felt throughout Harvey.”

Both members of the victim’s family and employees have been offered counselling services.

 

Baby food manufacturer sues packaging firm over choke-risk recalls

Organic baby food manufacturer, Green Monkey, is suing its former packaging producer to recover almost $1 million in costs following a 2011 product recall.

Chief executive of Green Monkey, Charlotte Rebbeck, told the High Court in Auckland that her aspirations of making Green Monkey a leading and ethical exporter were ruined after a product recall in 2011 resulted in lost sales and damaged the brand’s reputation.

According to Rebbeck, an Australian baby choked on a small plastic disc found in a Green Monkey baby food pouch, and while the baby was first diagnosed as having an allergic reaction, the doctor later said it was more likely related to two earlier complaints where mothers found small plastic discs in the product.

The company’s packaging producer at the time was Aperio, who used a Malaysian manufacturer to create the pouches, but Rebbeck said she was assured the packaging would meet stringent EU packaging regulations, stuff.co.nz reports.

Now operating under the name Green Zoo, Green Monkey wanted to recall products after the first complaint was made, but Aperio said it was a once-off. Once more complaints were made, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of product were recalled and Aperio then avoided absorbing responsibility or costs, Rebbeck said.

At the time of the recall, Green Monkey had distributors in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States and the United Arab Emirates, while also supplying to Woolworths supermarkets in Australia. The company lost all its international customers at the time and the recall meant Green Monkey effectively had a six month gap in supplying products to distributors that still wanted the products.

"This completely ruined our brand, but left Aperio completely undamaged,” Rebbeck said.
 

SPC Ardmona and the cheap Chinese food challenge

The political lobbying accompanying yesterday’s (2 February) government decision to withhold financial support from SPC Ardmona has overshadowed the big structural issues facing Australia’s preserved food industry.

The two major issues are the shift of market demand towards fresh food and the role of Chinese imports.

The decline of SPC Ardmona’s cannery business is not an isolated event. Heinz closed its cannery business in Goulburn Valley in 2012, Windsor Farm closed in Cowra, and only a few small players remain, mainly in NSW and WA.

Imports, mainly from China, have been singled out and demonised as “cheap, dumped and frequently contaminated”. This is a short-sighted perspective.

China is a big global player in international agribusiness. Chinese importing of fresh food provides opportunities for Australian exporters, but at the same time Chinese exports of canned food compete with Australian products in the local domestic market and in traditional export markets.

The “cheap, dumped and frequently contaminated” label will not stick for long.

China is stepping up consumer protection

While China’s canned food will remain cheap because of economies of scale and because canning technology is not much different in Australia and China, contamination is being addressed more seriously in China with new laws and regulations expected. The flow-on effect will mitigate Chinese consumer dissatisfaction with local food standards, but also improve the quality and safety of Chinese export products.

In January, China’s Supreme People’s Court announced an 18-clause guideline on how to handle civil disputes regarding food, drugs, cosmetics and dietary supplements.

The new guideline, together with an updated version of the consumer protection law, will come into effect on March 15, World Consumer Rights Day, and signal a new wave of regulatory action from the government to tackle China’s food safety problems. It gives consumers backing from the courts to sue manufacturers and retailers of unsafe food. Advertisers and publishers can be sued even before any actual harm is inflicted. Celebrities who endorse substandard products can also be sued if consumers feel they have been misled.

Since the milk powder scandal of 2008, much as been done to alleviate public anxiety and improve practices in the food industry. The Food Safety Law, replacing the outdated Food Hygiene Act, came into effect in 2009 and includes provisions on risk assessment methods, unification of food safety standards, improving supervision, and imposing tougher penalties on violators.

In March 2013, China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) was renamed to China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) and elevated to a ministerial-level agency directly under the State Council, in an attempt to consolidate power and streamline regulation of food and drug safety.

The new guidelines change the balance of power between consumers and producers and rely less on local government enforcement. One challenge facing China in food safety regulation is that law enforcement and implementation at the local level do not match the original intent of the law and central policies. With clearer procedures on how to protect their rights, consumers are given more say on food safety. This will increase food producers’ opportunity cost as consumers are now more willing and able to participate in the monitoring process.

Previously, producers and manufacturers had an incentive to sacrifice quality in order to maximise profits, because the chance of being caught and penalised was low. But consumers and social media now play a much more active role in monitoring food safety and have successfully put pressure on the government to enforce food safety standards

Australia has a head start

While enforcement will work for the corporatised food export sector, China’s highly fragmented food industry will continue to face problems because of the scale of monitoring required. Almost 80% of the half a million food companies in China are classified as “cottage industry” with ten or less employees.

Like in Australia, there are social reasons to keep small producers afloat. Along this complex supply chain there is a need to balance the interests of producers, markets and consumers. China’s first policy document of 2014, the No.1 Central Document, underscored the importance of rural reform and the development of modern agriculture.

For Australian agribusiness, this entails opportunities and challenges. Chinese producers will for the foreseeable future not be able to satisfy the demand of urban middle class consumers for top quality food. Australia, in competition with New Zealand, has a head start in this market with an enviable and hard to replicate reputation for clean and fresh food.

On the other hand, Chinese exports will become more competitive in the preserved food market, in particular in such traditional segments as canned food, putting more pressure on Australian producers in those market segments. For SPC Ardmona and its supply chain, the farming communities in the Goulburn Valley, this will require a radical rethink of traditional products and a switch to new product lines.

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

Taste Master fined for failing to maintain extruder machine

Taste Master has been prosecuted and fined after a worker sustained serious and permanent injuries when working on an extruder machine.

Taste Master manufactures flavours for use in the manufacture of food and beverage products and also fragrances used in cosmetics, hair care products and candles.

SafeWork SA prosecuted Taste Master and Andrew Fotheringham, the sole director and responsible officer of Taste Master, for failing to provide and maintain the plant in a safe condition; and also failing to ensure that the plant was operated safely.

The South Australian Industrial Court fined Taste Master $41,250 plus legal fees for an incident which occurred in March 2011 at Lonsdale in South Australia.

The court heard that the extruder machine used to melt sugars and mix flavours comprised of a cutter component with four fan-like blades.

When it was installed the cutter had an interlock device fitted which prevented the blades operating unless the cutter head was closed. At some point the interlock device was disabled and was no longer operational during the manufacturing process.

The employee released the clip which secured the extrusion head against the cutter blades to clear a blockage. The cutter blades continued rotating at 4500rpm whilst the employee attempted to clear the blockage with heat from a propane torch and then a scraper.

The employee sustained a complex injury when using the scraper in his right hand and his left hand came into contact with the spinning cutter blades. Injuries to the workers hand included skin lacerations, the loss of soft tissue and tendon as well as bone fractures.

The employee’s ring finger was nearly amputated and his little finger sustained severe tendon damage. The employee underwent reconstructive surgery and has been left with a permanent impairment.

The second defendant, Andrew Fotheringham, was fined $11,250 plus legal fees for failing to ensure that the plant was not being operated when the safety interlock supplied with the cutter was disabled.

Bryan Russell, Executive Director of SafeWork SA responded that “a major cause of workplace injuries in South Australia arise from the lack of adequate guarding that enables people to remain safe when working with moving parts”.

“It is the responsibility of employers to be vigilant in checking that safeguards manufactured to protect employees are in place and are well maintained”.

[Image: Taste Master]

Fonterra worker reinstated after Harlem Shake dismissal [video]

A New Zealand Fonterra employee who was dismissed for performing the Harlem Shake dance while at work has had his position permanently reinstated.

Craig Flynn was fired last year after his employer discovered videos of himself and six others performing the Harlem Shake while working at Fonterra’s Takanini plant.

According to stuff.co.nz, the dairy giant said Flynn had put himself and others at risk by "dancing with a shovel between his legs, hosing water where another employee was dancing, and splashing a pallet endangering himself and others", but Flynn argued the actions were simply “horseplay” and that his dismissal was unfair.

In June last year, Flynn and a colleague, Henry Taufua, successfully appealed the company’s decision, with the Employment Relations Authority arguing that there wasn’t suitable grounds for dismissal.

"Their individual actions do not seem factually similar to the facts alleged in the respondent's [Fonterra's] authorities. Hosing an area of floor then cleaning the water up prior to employees dancing around indicates preventative steps to ensure employee safety. Falling or tipping the paper trolley may have resulted in minimal (if any) injury or damage or none at all," the ERA stated.

It ruled that Fonterra’s claim that the Harlem Shake re-enactment was dangerous was contradicted by videos showing all the employees wearing hairnets or head gear, with the exception of two employees wearing buckets on their heads. Water sprayed by Flynn was also cleaned up before the dancing took place.

Flynn’s reinstatement has now been made permanent, however Taufua’s future at the company is unclear.

ERA member Tania Tetiaha said a reasonable employer couldn’t have found that Flynn’s conduct justified dismissal, adding that Fonterra didn’t follow fair process in the dismissal. Despite this, the ERA didn’t awards costs because Flynn’s behaviour was “blameworthy.”

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NZ rendering plant gutted by fire

Fire gutted a large animal by-products plant in South Taranaki on New Zealand‘s North Island yesterday.

The Taranaki Daily News reports that 45 firefighters and 12 fire engines from Okaiawa, Hawera, Eltham, Stratford, Manaia, Kaponga and New Plymouth were called to the fire. It took them about 90 minutes to put out the blaze.

Nobody was in the factory at the time and there were no reports of injuries.

The plant's co-owner Amanda Smith told the Taranaki Daily News that the company is a family business which was started by her great-grandfather.

She added that it was too early to say in what way the fire will affect the business.

Taranaki fire safety officer Matt Crabtree said the fire had spread to the roof between the plant's boiler room and dryer area. He added that the cause of the fire was still being investigated.

According to NewstalkZB, there were also fires at the plant in late 2012 and early 2013. These were caused by commercial dryers.

 

Inghams employee wins compensation suit for unfair dismissal

A Waikato (New Zealand) Inghams Chicken employee has been awarded $4000 in compensation for unfair dismissal.

Amarjit Singh, who was employed as an egg collector for the company was allegedly accused of lying about a back injury that he injured on 21 October 2011, and was subsequently dismissed on 28 February 2012 as Inghams claimed that he could no longer carry out his duties, stuff.co.nz reports.

Sheree Mansell, Inghams’ case manager declined Singh’s claim for compensation stating that the incident could not be corroborated by other staff.

Singh provided Inghams’ farm manager Muhannad Juma with a medical certificate on 14 November 2011, followed by several other medical certificates over the following months stating that Singh was only fit for light duties.

Singh told the Employment Relations Authority that the company accused him of lying about the injury, and informed him that it was not possible to allocate light duties to him.

Singh’s dismissal was found unjustified by the Employment Relations Authority with member K J Anderson stating that “the key requirements of the incapacity clause of the employment agreement were not observed."

 

NZ meatworks guilty of safety neglect

Riverlands Eltham, a Taranaki meatworks, has been found guilty of failing to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of its staff members, after an employee had the tip of his finger severed in late 2011.

The company was yesterday (5/12/13) found guilty in the New Plymouth District Court after being charged by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The charge follows a December 2011 incident where an employee, Erick Jimmy, had part of his finger severed while working on the blood collection chain conveyor, stuff.co.nz reports.

He subsequently developed an infection and had the finger removed down to the first joint.

When the incident occurred, there were no safety guards in place and no warning system to alert staff when the chain conveyor would start moving. Stuff.co.nz reports that safety guards were installed just hours after Jimmy’s injury occurred. A warning has also been added to the premises, alerting staff when the chain will move.

Judge Courtney said Riverlands’ immediate installation of the guards demonstrated the company was aware of the potential for injuries.

"They were available, as I say, they were produced in a matter of hours and for this company produced at minimal cost," he said.

Riverlands will be sentenced on 23 January.

 

Dairy farm accident leaves three critical

Three people are fighting for life and six others are injured after falling ill working inside a water tank on a Victorian dairy farm.

According to Sky News, the group was working on a rural property in Cloverlea, near Warragul when they became ill. 

It's believed they suffered a reaction to the contents of the tank, inhaling carbon dioxide.

The three that are in a critical condition are being flown to hospital, while the others will be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital in Warragul.

 

Liquid chlorine leak at Fonterra factory

A major liquid chlorine leak at Fonterra’s Clandeboye factory in New Zealand has led to seven people being decontaminated.

According to stuff.co.nz, the leak is believed to have occurred in the mozzarella cheese plant of the factory.

The seven people have “moderate symptoms”, said St John South Island communications advisor, Ian Henderson, and went through the decontamination process, being transported to Timaru Hospital for further checks.

A Fonterra spokesperson contacted Food magazine and said, "All seven employees who went to hospital as a precaution have been checked and given the all clear." 

Clandeboye produces 381,000 metric tonnes of dairy products per year.

 

New app aims to tackle food manufacturing’s injury rate

In light of research indicating that the food and beverage manufacturing industry records the highest incidence of workplace accidents in Australia, the Group Training Association of Victoria has released the Safety First App to help promote workplace safety in the lead up to Christmas.

Recent Safe Work Australia data shows that employees in the food and beverage industry, particularly workers in meat manufacturing, are the most likely to injure themselves at work, and November and December are the most dangerous months for manufacturing, transport and construction workers.

To help ensure the safety and apprentices and trainees and improve their understanding of OH&S, the Group Training Association of Victoria has developed the Safety First App.

Gary Workman, executive director of the Group Training Association of Victoria, said “Our members employ 8500 apprentices and trainees across Victoria and are committed to ensuring their staff, particularly those that are on new worksites, or equipment and plant, have handy access to the safety information checklists they need.

“Now apprentices have the safety questions they should be able to answer right in their pocket.”

The app will bring technology-enabled features into the traditional OH&S documentation, streamlining it and ensuring it is more site-specific.

It will provide instant feedback to apprentices with links to further information and a “percentage completed” indicator that will highlight how much information each individual knows for each worksite.

From an employer point of view, the app will provide a permanent compliance record for each employee on every worksite they attend, with the ability to produce electronic certificates of OH&S induction completion levels
 

Man suffers suspected spinal injuries after becoming trapped at chicken factory

A worker at a chicken processing factory in Perth has been freed after becoming trapped in a cooling machinery silo.

The processing factory which is located at Wangara in Perth’s industrial area, had 25 fire fighters called to the scene to free the man, The West reports.

The man became trapped when 2-3 cubic meters of ice fell on him at 1.50pm yesterday, with an alarm only raised once a fellow worker noticed that the man was missing from a production line.

It took the fire fighters around 45 minutes using specialised equipment to free the worker which involved cutting a hole in the side of the silo.

The man was taken to Joondalup hospital and is suspected to have suffered spinal injuries. 

 

Enware Australia celebrates 75 years

Hospitality, hygiene and water conservation product company, Enware Australia, is this year celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Headquartered in Caringbah, Enware has more than trebled its employment in a decade and has a team of more than 190 people.

Enware Australia produces specialist tapware, water management systems and water technology products for hospitals, schools, laboratories, food preparation facilities, hospitality providers, retail facilities, local and government facilities and age care facilities.

Executive chairman, Paul Degnan, said connecting with its customers is key to the brand's success.

"We don’t even try to match the strengths of Asia, which are predominantly bulk production runs for mass markets. Our markets are those where there is a strong design component required, a special relationship with the end user and understanding of their needs – qualities that they just can’t buy off the shelf," he said.

As well as trebling the size of its team, Enware has also trebled its turnover over the last decade, focusing strongly on the plumbing and safety markets with special emphasis on food and hospitality, hygiene and water conservation products.

Degnan doesn't deny that Australian manufacturers are experiencing tough conditions at the moment, but is optimistic that a commitment to quality and to the Australian industry will pay off in the long run.

"It’s tough out there for any business at the moment, there’s no doubt about that, but Enware has stayed committed to quality, and keeping skills and jobs in Australia," he said.

"While many companies in the industry have moved offshore for lower costs, Enware has, as much as possible, committed to keeping core manufacturing skills and technology here."

 

Former Teys worker sues over workplace injury

A meatworker is suing his former employer Teys Australia for $750,000 over a February 2011 incident, in which he slipped and cut his hand on a metal tray.

The Morning Bulletin reports that Peter McKenzie’s claim lodged in the Rockhampton District Court stated that a damaged rubber strip on the tray – which McKenzie had earlier complained about – contributed to a fall from a fat- and blood-covered ladder.

When McKenzie fell, he grabbed the tray, severing tendons which required surgery to mend. The accident caused him to lose work and also possibly miss out on a promotion, McKenzie claims.

McKenzie’s legal representative, Gino Andrieri of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said, “A case like this highlights the dangers in the workplace if complaints aren't acted on immediately." 

 

Don’t let pest management eat away at you

Pest management is a dirty word for some food manufacturers. They don't like to talk about it, and they don't like to admit that it's an integral part of their business. But let's face it – if you're a food brand in Australia worth your name in salt, then you must have a pretty serious pest management plan in place.

Having a strategy for keeping creepy crawlies out of your facility, as well as one for removing them if they find their way in, is indicative of a proactive, responsible business, not a negligent one.

But, like a lot of regulation in the food manufacturing industry, knowing exactly what an effective pest management strategy looks like can be difficult.

There are a wide array of pest management standards that a brand can adhere to, depending on what products it manufactures and where those products will be sold.

Eighteen months ago, the Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association (AEPMA) penned a Code of Practice for pest management in the food industry in Australia and New Zealand.

David Gray, national president of the AEPMA, says "With the industry Code of Practice, we didn't create anything new, really. We just took the benchmarks that were there and, in a nutshell, if someone is setting up a pest management program in a food manufacturing facility and they set it up to the Australia and New Zealand Code of Practice, then they will meet the requirements of all the existing standards or codes that are out there."

The Code, which aims to define best practice in managing pests in food manufacturing, is a go-to guide not only for food brands, but also for auditors and pest management companies.

"We've added some additional value in the sense that auditors usually come from the food industry. Their expertise is in food, some of them have some experience in pest management but most don't. So we've developed this Code equally for their benefit, so they can look at it and then audit the pest management program against the Code. It gives them some KPIs that they can measure against, rather than just going in and approaching it blindly," Gray told Food magazine.

"It also includes the downstream suppliers to the food industry, so the suppliers of raw materials, and things like packaging. Often the packaging plants and packaging materials come under the same stringent requirements because they're supplying into the food industry."

Abiding by the AEPMA's Code of Practice means food manufacturers will not necessarily have less regulatory I's to dot or T's to cross, but will at least know what systems and processes it needs to have in place to ensure everything's kosher, so to speak.

Stephen Ware, national executive director at the AEPMA, says "In the pest management industry, everyone knows they need pest managers, but the food manufacturers haveproblems because auditors turn up and different auditors have different ideas of what should happen as far as, for instance, where to put down rodent baits and traps. The Code of Practice has helped to clarify that.

"That's why [the Code] has been pretty well accepted by both the pest controllers – who don't really want to argue with everybody about where he should put the bait – and the food manufacturer – who doesn't want to have to sit down and have an argument with every auditor that comes in."

A multi-faceted approach
Paul Moreira, service manager for Victoria at Adams Pest Control, says the two fundamental pillars of pest management are hygiene and maintenance.

But this isn't as straight forward as it may sound, he insists.

"In the food industry there's a requirement to integrate a pest management approach which is multi-faceted. So rather than just focusing on applying a pesticide, it's about identifying proofing issues, harbourage issues, alternative food sources. All of those things link into the site's pest management program," he said.

Safety of the end product, obviously, is a high priority in pest control in the food industry. Manufacturers need to be very careful about where and how they fight off pests, and there are a number of options available to them, Moreira says.

While toxic bates are available, which are consumed by rodents and kill them five to 10 days later, Moreira believes that in the coming years the industry will move award from these chemicals.

"Another approach is to have a monitoring block, which allows you to assess activity. So the pest controller goes around and has a look at if the block has been consumed or not,and if it has you obviously have a problem and you have to go down the path of getting rid of the infestation," he says.

This approach means there's no risk of contaminating the product being manufactured, but on the other hand it's purely an information gathering exercise – it doesn't treat the problem at all.

It's for this reason that the American Institute of Baking (AIB), which has an internationally recognised standard, is moving away from the use of non-toxic chemical blocks internally, instead recommending the use of mechanical traps.

"It's all about minimising pests within the site by hitting them outside, and then inside your treatment becomes a non-toxic approach. According to the AIB's standard you have to use a mechanical trap. You can't use a monitoring block … because all that does is feed the rodent. You haven't addressed the issue of having the rodent there."

While Adams Pest Control's latest product, Baitsafe, can be used with toxic baits, it's like nothing else on the market as it allows food manufacturers to use pesticides in cavities in a safe, controllable way, Moreira says.

"What Baitsafe allows us to do is put a device in that cavity and then apply the pesticide in a very secure way. It looks like a fire alarm. It's flush against the ceiling, but it doesn't have to be in the ceiling. It can be in the splashback of the kitchen, it can be in the kickplate of a bench or in a wall, but it sits flush against it.

"We have a key, we place it in the device, open it and the pesticide is on the other side, or we can even apply a monitoring block or a sticky board to allow us to gauge the activity levels of, say, fruit flies or cockroaches, then we close the device.

"So as far as anyone on this side of the wall, where people work, are concerned, all they see is a tiny little circular flat planel and they can't access the pesticide that's on the other side," Moreira says.

Money well spent
Food manufacturers need to be proactive with their pest management strategy. It goes without saying that it's much easier – and more cost effective – to prevent an infestation from occurring than it is to have one treated.

So while regular inspections and a detailed pest management strategy might seem like an unneccesary expense, it's money well spent, says Simon Lean, Australian technical manager at Rentokil.

"Pest control isn't free but they [food manufacturers] do get good value for money. It's always something you have to have on your books and something manufacturers often want to get done for as cheap as possible, but generally, if people are chasing cheap pest control they get a cheap job, and if they get a cheap job they end up with pest problems.

"That's the last thing they need because all these food manufacturing companies are very particular about brand protection. The last thing they want is for someone to see a rat in a loaf of bread or something like that," Lean told Food magazine.

"A PR disaster can really hit these companies. But it's not just PR. If they've got a contaminated line in their manufacturing, just imagine if they have to close that line down because it's either riddled with pests or simply broken. The cost of that line being down could be thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands a week, in lost production. Whether that be because of pests or an engineering concern, it gets very serious and it really does hit their bottom line."

Regular inspections are critical for any food brand, especially those in older facilities that may not be able to keep pests out as effectively as new buildings can.

Having said that, regular – and thorough – hygiene and maintenance schedules go a long way in pest-proofing your business, and therefore minimise the likelihood and cost of treating infestations, replacing equipment or – heaven forbid – dealing with product recalls.

"If you keep things clean and in good working order, it's going to be easier to inspect for any pest problems, and you're not going to have as many pest problems because it's clean and you don't have any food for the pests or harbourage where they can hide and breed," Lean says.

"That's why inspections are so critical in food manufacturing."

 

Fonterra workers win jobs back after Harlem Shake sacking

Two workers fired from Fonterra's Takanini plant in New Zealand for doing the Harlem Shake dance have successfully appealed the company's decision.

Henry Taufua and Craig Flynn were fired after a video showing the men performing the dance was discovered by the dairy company, which stated that Taufua had "rode a paper trolley or pallet jack in an unsafe manner endangering himself and others and failed to report unsafe acts by other employees", while Flynn had put himself and others at risk by organising the videos, "dancing with a shovel between his legs, hosing water where another employee was dancing and splashing a pallet ."

According to The NZ Herald, the workers successfully appealed the decision to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), with the video [below] disproving Fonterra's grounds for dismissal.

"Their individual actions do not seem factually similar to the facts alleged in the respondent's[Fonterra's] authorities. Hosing an area of floor then cleaning the water up prior to employees dancing around indicates preventative steps to ensure employee safety. Falling or tipping the paper trolley may have resulted in minimal (if any) injury or damage or none at all," the ERA stated.

"Neither of the applicants conduct necessarily had the potential for the serious injury contemplated in the respondent's authorities."

The ERA ordered the men's temporary reinstatement to their jobs until a substantive hearing.

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Man dies in meat blender accident

A 41 year old man died on Friday night at a meat distribution plant in Oregon, USA following a fatal fall into a running meat blender.

Hugo Avalos-Chanon appeared to have died from “blunt-force injuries and chopping wounds,” according to the medical examiners statement in The Oregonian’s report via the Huffington Post.

Interstate Meat Distributors plant, where the accident occurred had recently come under fire for “serious” violations regarding lax safety.

Avalos-Chanon was said to have been cleaning the blender at around 11.45pm when the accident happened. Efforts from a fellow worker failed to save the man as they did not activate the emergency switch in time to stop the machinery.

A spokesperson from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration told local news outlet, KGW, that both the plant and Avalos-Chanon’s employer, DCS Sanitation Management was being investigated over the incident.

They also stressed that it was too early to conclude if the violations were connected to the accident.

President of Interstate Meat Distributors, Darrin Hoy, said that the death was “extremely unfortunate” and that the company is cooperating with investigators.  

Calls to strengthen standards for NZ baby milk exports to China

 

New Zealand is being urged to strengthen the standards for infant formula manufacture and to thereby realise the full potential of its exports to the Chinese baby milk market.

As stuff.co.nz reports, infant formula exports to China are estimated to be worth NZ$8.2 billion to the economy.

In an effort to highlight New Zealand’s anti-counterfeiting efforts, the New Zealand Infant Formula Exporters Association will make a presentation to the Chinese media at this month's Mother and Baby Expo in Beijing. The presentation will outline its work accrediting suppliers and approving brands.

And Chief Executive of Westland Milk Products Rod Quin, who recently visited China as part of a trade and political mission led by Prime Minister John Key, has also called for an extra focus on infant formula standards.

Historically, the counterfeiting of infant formula has been a problem in China and the nation understandably takes a strong stand on the issue.

For example, in 2008 the nation experienced a melamine baby milk powder doctoring scandal which resulted in the deaths of babies and long term kidney problems.

The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is understood to be working on the issue of standards alignment.

The importance and sensitivity of the issue were highlighted earlier this year when a chemical residue was found in Fonterra milk powder.

The MPI’s handling of the situation came in for much local criticism at the time.

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