Food complaints on NZ menu

A burger containing live maggots, premium angus mince containing a piece of glass and juice with a cockroach in it were among 15 Napier-based food safety complaints made to the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries in the past three years.

napier.foodThere were eight complaints last year and four as of November this year.

Some cases were referred to local authorities, others required the ministry to send an educational letter.

The good news for Napier was annual inspections of commercial food premises generally reflected a high standard of hygiene, Napier City Council regulatory services manager Mike Webster said.

“Napier City and Hastings District have consistently been in the top 10 performing territorial authorities when it comes to food premises adopting the new more rigorous food control plans which should hopefully assure a high standard of food safety,” he said.

Food-borne illness struck about 200,000 New Zealanders every year, according to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

Nearly half of these were attributed to food handling, preparation or storage in the home.

“I would like to see the numbers for food-borne illness reduced substantially but part of that will rely on improving our education of the general public safe food handling practices especially ‘clean, cover, cook, chill’,” Mr Webster said.

“If these four things were done thoroughly in every home and business, foodborne illness would drop dramatically in New Zealand.”

Uh-huh. Unimaginative messages from unimaginative people.

C.J. Jacob and D.A. Powell. 2009. Where does foodborne illness happen—in the home, at foodservice, or elsewhere—and does it matter? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. November 2009, 6(9): 1121-1123

Foodservice professionals, politicians, and the media are often cited making claims as to which locations most often expose consumers to foodborne pathogens. Many times, it is implied that most foodborne illnesses originate from food consumed where dishes are prepared to order, such as restaurants or in private homes. The manner in which the question is posed and answered frequently reveals a speculative bias that either favors homemade or foodservice meals as the most common source of foodborne pathogens. Many answers have little or no scientific grounding, while others use data compiled by passive surveillance systems. Current surveillance systems focus on the place where food is consumed rather than the point where food is contaminated. Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.