Epi counts, 100 sickened in 2011: Australian High Court rules against SA Government in defamation case brought by baker Vili Milisits

The High Court has upheld a decision forcing the State Government to hand over material relating to a defamation claim by prominent Adelaide baker Vili Milisits.

Vili MilisitsMr Milisits is suing the Government for defamation over its handling of a salmonella outbreak in which 100 people fell ill in 2011.

He claimed his reputation was damaged when the state’s Director of Public Health, Doctor Kevin Buckett, issued warnings about custard-filled products from Vili’s Bakery, despite no traces of the bacteria being found at the premises.

The warnings came during a radio interview and two press conferences called in February 2011.

After a court application, the Government provided Mr Milisits’ lawyers with redacted versions of patient records and interviews with those who became ill, but the Full Court of the Supreme Court ordered the documents be handed over in full.

The Government sought leave in the High Court to challenge that order, but the court refused.

The Government told the court it was in the public interest to maintain the confidentiality of the personal information of those who became ill, particularly because they volunteered to take part in interviews on the basis of confidentiality.

Last week, the Supreme Court heard an application by Mr Milisit’s lawyers to strike out part of the Government’s defence.

The Government contends the warnings issued about Vilis products were justified and based on truth, relying on information provided in the interviews with those who became ill.

It also claimed a qualified privilege defence and one that Dr Buckett was protected from liability because he was carrying out his duties under the Food Act.

Lawyers for Mr Milisits said his actions did not fall under the act, and that part of the Government’s defence should be struck out before the trial.

The judge reserved his decision.

No date has yet been fixed for the trial.

Adelaide bakery owner sought over rodent droppings found in food

A council says an Adelaide western suburbs bakery where rodent droppings were found in food had supplied supermarkets, delicatessens and other food outlets.

lab-miceAdelaide Magistrates Court has heard the owner has been actively avoiding being served with court documents.

It is alleged the droppings were in the mixture for custard tarts and biscuits and in potato flakes. 

So are my parents: disappointment at spoiled food being sold in Adelaide

Michael Livori, the chief executive of the Eastern Health Authority in South Australia – that includes Adelaide – would fit in well on the Real Housewives of Vancouver.

Like many Canadians, he doesn’t get angry, he’s just disappointed.

reiko-rhovDisappointed that almost 40 eastern suburbs restaurants and cafes tried to sell food which might have gone off after a severe storm cut power for up to two days in the Adelaide area.

In a report to the Eastern Health Authority’s May meeting, acting senior environmental health officer Nadia Conci says inspectors visited 55 premises in the wake of the February 4 storm.

Ms Conci said many of the businesses failed to throw out food that could have been contaminated after being unrefrigerated for up to 48 hours.

She said most of the inspected businesses were not insured for power outages because of high premium costs.

“Astoundingly, 70 per cent of these businesses were willing to risk selling food that was out of temperature control for a significant amount of time to recover costs,” Ms Conci said in her report.

The storms resulted in power being cut to 84,000 homes around the state — and about 525 businesses across the eastern suburbs.

More than 10,000 households were eligible to share in more than $6 million in compensation for the prolonged blackout.

Restaurants, cafes, delicatessens and supermarkets selling high-risk food — such as seafood and meat — and those with a history of unsafe food practices were prioritised for inspection.

The authority had to do follow-up inspections at 14 premises and one business had four follow-ups and a written warning because it refused to throw out food.

Mr Livori told the Eastern Courier Messenger, “For a large establishment like that to have that sort of attitude was very disappointing,”

He was not able to name the business.

 “The big issue was that businesses were willing to take the risk.”

He said inspectors had limited powers under the Food Act to immediately seize food that had not been refrigerated because officers had to prepare a written notice before taking any action.

And consumers should be disappointed – or angry – that health types have limited powers. Good food safety is good for business.

Australian deli meats a microbiological worry

I look forward to the peer-reviewed paper, because PR before publishing is usually a bad idea. I also like the messaging Publix supermarkets use in the U.S.

A new study by students at Adelaide University, which will be presented this week at a Perth conference, shows hygienic food handling is not practised at many of the city’s supermarket delicatessens.

publix.deli.warningThe study found 134 out of 174 samples of various ready-to-eat deli meats bought at randomly selected supermarkets had bacterial levels that failed to meet food standards guidelines.

“Although no recognised food poisoning pathogens such as Escherichia coli or Salmonella species were found on these meats, the high bacterial count suggests that hygiene has been compromised,” said the university’s Professor Michael Reichel.

“Such out-of-control processes are also susceptible to contamination with serious food poisoning organisms.”

Sliced salami, fritz and roast pork showed the highest proportions of unsatisfactory bacterial counts.

Ham and chicken meats had lower levels of bacteria, but two-thirds of those samples still failed to meet satisfactory standards.

He said 15.5 per cent of samples showed the presence of coliform bacteria, indicating poor hygiene such as people not washing their hands after going to the toilet.

Australian sushi outlet guilty of 40 breaches on food hygiene

Cherry Blossom Sushi Bars were established in 2007 and the company now has 20 stores in different locations in Adelaide. According to the company’s Web site, each Cherry Blossom Sushi Bar outlet is “supplemented with hot Japanese-Style meals Cherry Blossom Sushi Barserviced from a central kitchen delivered by temperature-controlled vehicles.”

According to International Business Times – Australia, the company also assures patrons that the “highest level of commitment to food health and safety is our first priority. Cherry Blossom is HACCP Accredited and operates a rigorous training and audit program to ensure not just compliance, but a culture of the highest standards of hygiene. As well as daily attention to food hygiene within our own premises, our experience of health and safety is taken off-site when we participate in off-location special events”


However a report from ABC News said that the Cherry Blossom Sushi Bar outlet in Gorge Road, Newton, had pleaded guilty to 40 breaches of Food Safety Standards code of Australia.

Cherry Blossom committed the food hygiene breaches from August of 2012 until February 2013 when it fall short of maintaining its sushi rolls storage under recommended temperature control, hence, failing to avoid raw sushi ingredients from being contaminated.

As for the store premises per se, officials saw that there were accumulated dirt from food scraps and that kitchen utensils were old, dirty and rusty.

Consequently, Li and Ming Pty Ltd, owner of Cherry Blossom Sushi Bar, pleaded guilty at Holden Hill Magistrate Court to 44 counts of failing to comply with requirements of the Food Safety Standards code. The company now has to wait for its sentence pending until October.

107 sickened; company wants more proof it was source of Salmonella outbreak, sues government

In Feb., 2011, at least 107 people were sickened by Salmonella linked to pastries produced in Adelaide (that’s in Australia).

One of the victims, 71-year-old Norma Kent, swears she will never eat a Berliner bun again.

Having previously survived a heart attack, she says the food poisoning – which included a week in Wakefield Hospital on an intravenous drip – berliner.bunwas “far worse” than her heart scare.

“This is the worst illness I have ever experienced,” she said.

“I didn’t know what was wrong with me, it was like my insides were falling out … my body felt like it was exploding.”

On Feb. 4, 2011, Vili’s custard Berliners and St George Cakes and Gelati custard eclairs and cannolis were withdrawn from sale after South Australia Health established they were the common link in the reported cases.

Yesterday, lawyers for Adelaide baker Vili Milisits have asked for more evidence from SA Health as part of legal action undertaken by Mr Milisits who is suing the South Australian Government for defamation over its handling of the outbreak, claiming his credit and reputation were damaged.

ABC News reports at a Supreme Court hearing, Mr Milisits’ lawyer applied for more documentation from the health department so he could verify the accuracy of patient questionnaires.

He argued patients might have been prompted about specific products if they could not remember what they ate.

The lawyer argued all the department’s evidence about the source of the outbreak needed to be available for scrutiny.

The court will rule later.

Australian supermarket fined $208K over dated food

The operators of an Adelaide supermarket have been fined more than $200,000 after displaying food for sale past its use-by date, some by as much as 40 days.

Seaford 7 Days Ltd and Supermarket Investments, which operated the Foodland Port Noarlunga South store in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, foodland.adelaide.jun.13pleaded guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court to a total of 57 counts of breaching the Food Act.

Thirty-four of those related to displaying food past its use-by date, with others relating to the condition of the business including the accumulation of food waste, dirt and grease.

In sentencing on Thursday Magistrate Luke Davis said the breaches were serious and continued over an extended period last year despite the supermarket being put on notice by health inspectors.

“It is clear that these offences are the result of a systemic, widespread and negligent failure by those responsible,” Mr Davis said.

The magistrate said it was “perhaps surprising” no member of the public had complained about the supermarket.

But he accepted that management had since dealt with the cleanliness issues and had introduced strict new procedures to prevent any further problems.

He imposed fines totalling $208,750 but did not record convictions against the defendants noting they had already suffered through bad publicity and a loss of income.

Australian family awarded $200,000 after man dies from listeria-contaminated meat

Who are these dietician and menu planners at institutions who continue to provide cold-cuts to the immunocompromised – a known listeria risk. And what’s the matter with a little heat on that turkey breast sandwich to reduce the risk?

Adelaide Now reports the lawyer for a listeria poisoning victim’s family says hospitals should consider the potentially fatal consequences of serving chicken-based products to patients.

(He means refrigerated ready-to-eat foods, I think; I’m still learning to speak Australian.)

The District Court heard the family of Richard Formosa – who died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 2005 – would receive a $200,000 settlement from Conroy’s Smallgoods.

Mr Formosa’s mother, 80, and intellectually disabled brother, 44, had sued the hospital and the smallgoods maker, which provided the meat, over his death.

Outside court, John Doherty said health authorities should learn a lesson from the case.

“I’m on record as saying hospitals need to re-examine, very carefully, the provision of chicken-based products to certain patients,” he said.

“For people with compromised immune systems, in particular, it is not appropriate.”

Mr Formosa, 53, died on October 31, 2005, while receiving treatment for his diabetes-related condition.

He had been given Conroy’s smallgoods to eat – at the time, it was reported he had consumed corned beef. The food Mr Formosa ate contained a strain of listeria later found on the company’s conveyor belt, prompting a mass-recall of its product.

In December 2005, The Advertiser reported one of the state’s most senior doctors had admitted that feeding Mr Formosa the cold meat was a mistake.

The then-director of the Health Department’s Communicable Disease Control Branch, Dr Rod Givney, said there was “a failure” in identifying Mr Formosa as a high-risk patient.

South Australian restaurant worker has hepatitis A

A worker at the Yakatori Takumi restaurant in North Adelaide has tested positive to hepatitis A, potentially exposing diners to the disease.

Health officials said they believed the worker picked up the infection while overseas.

Chief Medical Officer Paddy Phillips said the risk to customers was considered low, adding, "However, it is possible that patrons who ate at the restaurant between September 21 and October 4 may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. An alert has been issued to all GPs to be aware of the case and to arrange for appropriate testing for any patients presenting with possible hepatitis A infection."

3 children stricken with shiga-toxin E. coli linked to South Australian petting zoo

South Australian health authorities have issued a warning over contact with animals after three children who visited the Royal Adelaide Show contracted two cases of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) infection and one case of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Two of the three children – all aged between 4 and 12 years – had been in contact with farm animals at the show’s animal nursery.

SA Health’s Paddy Phillips said one of the children infected is in hospital with HUS and is in a serious but stable condition.

Professor Phillips said hand hygiene is the best method of preventing STEC after contact with animals.

And maybe not letting little kids with their soothers and food and hands in their mouths have contact with animals that can shed dangerous bacteria.

A table of international outbreaks at petting zoos and farm shows is available at: http://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.