Stop handling food: 18 with typhoid in New Zealand

The number of people in Auckland confirmed to have contracted typhoid remains at 18; with one probable case and two others still under investigation.

The Auckland Regional Public Health said this afternoon that of those cases, three people remained in hospitals around the city.

All patients – including children – are connected to the Mt Albert Samoan Assembly of God church congregation which holds its Sunday services at Wesley Primary School in Mt Roskill.

“More cases may come to light as a result of the work ARPHS is doing to trace those who have been in contact with people confirmed as having typhoid,” a statement said.

“Typhoid has a typical incubation period of eight to 14 days, but incubation can be up to 80 days.

This means cases may emerge over the course of several weeks.”

Health officials are urging anyone who has close contacts to those affected by the disease to take extra precautions.

“Public health services have asked close contacts of typhoid patients who are in settings where there is an increased risk of transmission, such as food handlers, to stand down until they’re cleared.”

What about suppliers? Eating safe key to newerer NZ food certification scheme

Auckland Council is rolling out a new-look verification and certification scheme called “Eatsafe” in response to Food Act 2014 standards that came into effect on 1 March 2016.

eat.safely.auckland“Eatsafe is designed to protect and reassure the public by providing more transparency around food safety and suitability in Auckland,” says Bylaws and Regulatory Committee Chair, Councillor Calum Penrose.

The new Food Act 2014 promotes food safety by focusing on the processes of food production and not the premises where the food is made.

“Our industry-leading system recognizes that every one of the more than 8,000 food businesses in Auckland is different, with differing levels of measurement required, depending on the type of food premises,” he says.

The new grading system assesses each business based on food safety, looking at cleaning, cooking, chilling of food and operator conduct, as well as food suitability issues such as food composition and labelling.

“With the increasing number and diversity of food outlets, and the rising popularity of eating out in Auckland, more people will be looking for the Eatsafe “A – Excellent” rating on the wall. Of course, under the new system, a “B” or “C” rating will also be a passing grade and quite appropriate for some types of outlets,” says Councillor Penrose.

Auckland Council’s current blue food safety certificates will be phased out over the three years and food operators serving alcohol have until June 2017 to switch.


NZ real estate agent mails poop to rival

An Auckland real estate agent who mailed poo to a rival agent has been discharged without conviction.

poop.jarGrant Campbell Tucker, 58, a director of Netrealty, appeared for sentence in the Auckland District Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to posting a noxious substance.

The recipient of the package, David Beard, the lawyer of Tucker’s former employer Custom Residential, tendered a victim impact statement that detailed the impact on staff and the financial loss he had suffered because of the offending.

Judge Claire Ryan said Tucker posted the noxious substance on March 6, 2014, an offence carrying a maximum penalty of a $5000 fine.

The judge said the offending occurred after Tucker fell out with his former employer, John Wills, the director of Custom Residential.


Auckland eateries pass food hygiene tests

Auckland diners should feel reassured heading into the holiday season, with almost 98 per cent of the region’s eateries practicing good food hygiene practices.

2008_05_22-GradeKitchenAuckland Council said since it implemented the Food Safety Bylaw last year, which covered inspection, staff training, the conduct and maintenance of premises, and cleaning and sanitising, there had been a significant improvement in food safety and hygiene.

Almost 98 per cent of business in the region had received an A or B food hygiene rating this year.

Councillor Calum Penrose, the Bylaws Committee chairman, said the numbers were encouraging as it meant an increase in food safety, minimising the potential risks of food bought from restaurants, cafes, food stalls and mobile food shops.

Customers had become more aware of the grading practices now premises were required to prominently display their grade, Penrose said.

The grade also allowed customers to make an informed choice before eating out.

Auckland Council environmental health manager Mervyn Chetty said the food grading system was just one aspect of a consistent approach to food safety region-wide.

There were more than 8,520 licensed food premises in the region, including 762 new applications for licences this year.

Chetty said there had been an increase in food operators wanting to sell food at markets.

“This year alone, we have had three new night markets open, bringing the total to nine night markets operating in Auckland.”

Food trucks were also gaining in popularity, he said.

Last year hygiene problems at Auckland eateries forced some places to shut temporarily.

Last year 10 restaurants and cafes had received E grades, with 29 given a D grade.

Premises were given an A for a high standard, B for good, D for poor and E for unsatisfactory.

Those with an E grade last year included Kebabs on Campus, located at Auckland University of Technology, the Kiwi Music Bar & Cafe on Queen St, and controversial chain outlets Masala Restaurant Mission Bay and Hollywood Bakery Sylvia Park.

Since then all these businesses had been upgraded to an A grade.

Popular Chinese dumpling house Barilla Dumpling received a D in the first round of grading last year but was later upgraded to an A. Barilla Dumpling currently held a B grade.

The food hygiene grades of all Au

Popular NZ eatery a risk to public health

A popular Dominion Road eatery has been prosecuted by Auckland Council for failing to meet national food health regulations. The Golden Tulip Restaurant at 537 Dominion Road, Balmoral and its owners faced multiple charges of food safety and hygiene issues and were fined almost $4,000 by the Auckland District Court this week.

The Golden Tulip Restaurant.aucklandIn a routine inspection by Auckland Council on February 11, an environmental health officer observed a number of areas of non-compliance – offences under the regulations – including cockroaches, the use of mouldy curry paste and inadequate food protection. Other issues concerned a lack of understanding of hygiene practices such as staff wearing protective clothing, washing hands in hot water and general food safety practices.

On completion of the inspection the Golden Tulip was immediately closed and given an ‘E’ Food grade rating. Since the court case, after several reinspections and a full assessment of the operation throughout April, Auckland Council has issued the Golden Tulip with a ‘B’ grade.

The Auckland Council food safety bylaw came into force in July 2013 and introduced a regional grading system based on compliance and risk, as well as the need for at least 50 percent of all food handlers to be trained in food hygiene.

Fancy food ain’t safe food – NZ edition

As New York City somewhat quietly enacted its first paid sick leave law on April 1, wedding guests and eight serving staff at the exclusive Northern Club in Auckland, New Zealand fell sick in a suspected norovirus outbreak.

The wedding was held at the club in Princes St, central Auckland, on Saturday, March 29. People began to fall ill two days later.
norovirus-2Dr Hoskins said the club had alerted the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

He said the service’s investigation was still in progress, and he did not know last night how many of the 100 guests had become ill.

Contact details had been obtained for 77 guests, of whom 44 had been interviewed.

Club’s president Tenby Powell (no relation) said that although the health service’s investigation had not yet identified the source of the outbreak, “we are very confident it’s got nothing to do with the Northern Club’s food handling processes”.

The eight affected employees were serving staff – “they serve plates” – and none of the food preparation staff had been affected.


Going public on restaurants in New Zealand

People want to know what’s in (or on) their food.

Some people care about different things: I care about the microbes that make people barf.

But when people buy food at a grocery store, restaurant or market, they don’t really know what they’re getting, because “food is the number 1 priority” or “we’ve done it this way for years and never made anyone sick” or “trust me.”

One attempt to fill that gap is making the results of food inspections public. It’s popular with local voters, and similarly popular with media.

The New Zealand Herald is the latest to embrace the dirty dining trend, running daily summaries of the worst offenders.

New Zealand has a hodgepodge of inspection disclosure systems, so the series focuses on the biggest city, Auckland, which does have a letter grading system.

Last month Central Auckland’s dirtiest eating establishments were named.

Food grades in the former Auckland City region show 10 restaurants and cafes have received E grades, with 29 given a D grade.

The New Zealand Herald online asked readers if they were influenced by the food grading system. Nearly 13,500 readers responded and just over half said they used the rating to make a call about whether to dine there. Or not.

But to the every day diner, how do these places really stack up?

A few brave members of the online team have decided to put their bellies on the line and review all 29 of the D listers, revealing one a day for the month of September. D grade eateries are reviewed twice a year, according to Auckland City Council. While they are to change, our list is correct as of the last week of August, 2013. If the grade is changed at the time of publication this will be made clear in the review.

In capital city Wellington, city council records given reluctantly to Fairfax NZ show 38 premises were issued with cleaning or repair notices in the past financial year, including four that were forced to close.

The list of notices is publicly available information but it was released only after the council told the businesses on the list that it was “extremely reluctant” to provide their names.

Council operations and business development team leader Raaj Govinda said in a letter sent to all premises before the list was released, council was not able to withhold names from the public, though it was “extremely reluctant” to provide the list and “has not done so willingly.”

That will do nothing to build consumer confidence.

Other councils, including Auckland and Palmerston North, list the hygiene ratings for all eateries online.

Yesterday, Govinda said Wellington was considering doing that but it did not want to put businesses at risk.

“In general, council is not in the business of trying to close people. We have got a regulatory duty.”

But unlike the U.S. version of the restaurant lobby, Wellington Restaurant Association president Mike Egan said it was important for restaurants to be held accountable, as closure notices were often a last resort, adding, “Those places would have had ample opportunity normally to put things right and it’s about a failure to either take it seriously or react appropriately.” Putting ratings online could be a “big carrot” for good practice, he said.

We have some experience with restaurant inspection disclosure systems. Even in New Zealand.

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand.
Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the bataligradespremises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.


Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009. The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information. Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.


Multiple outbreaks of a novel norovirus GII.4 linked to an infected post-symptomatic food handler in NZ

Thornley et al write in the current issue of Epidemiology and Infection that multiple norovirus outbreaks following catered events in Auckland, New Zealand, in September 2010 were linked to the same catering company and investigated.

Retrospective cohort studies were undertaken with attendees of two events: 38 (24·1%) of 158 surveyed attendees developed norovirus-compatible illness. Attendees were at increased risk of illness if they had consumed food vomit(7)that had received manual preparation following cooking or that had been prepared within 45 h following end of symptoms in a food handler with prior gastroenteritis. All food handlers were tested for norovirus. A recombinant norovirus GII.e/GII.4 was detected in specimens from event attendees and the convalescent food handler. All catering company staff were tested; no asymptomatic norovirus carriers were detected.

This investigation improved the characterization of norovirus risk from post-symptomatic food handlers by narrowing the potential source of transmission to one individual. Food handlers with gastroenteritis should be excluded from the workplace for 45 h following resolution of symptoms.

Stomach bug hits NZ health facilities

Just days after a deadly listeria outbreak in a New Zealand hospital was made public, some 40 patients at three health facilities supplied by North Shore Hospital’s kitchen have been hit by a stomach infection.

The outbreak was not related to the listeria outbreak reported in Hawkes Bay last week.

Errol Kiong a spokesman for North Shore Hospital, told the New Zealand Herald that Auckland Regional Public Health Service staff were trying to identify the reason for the outbreak, adding, "We think it may be related to food somehow. We don’t have any confirmation on that. The reason we think it’s food is because the supply chain for all three areas is from the same place. The food is prepared at North Shore Hospital."

Auckland’s worst eateries score E for eeewww

One of Auckland’s most famous nightclubs (that’s in New Zealand), a party spot for the rich and famous, has been given the city’s worst food hygiene grade – ‘E’ for eeeww.

The Crow Bar on Wyndham St – where Bono from U2 hung out after one concert – is one of just 13 eateries to be awarded the worst possible grade.

The New Zealand Herald reports all of the new Supercity’s 8000 restaurants, cafes, bars, dairies and bakeries – anywhere you can buy food to eat – have a rating between A and E. Any worse, and the council bans them from trading.

Council inspectors have discovered huge cockroaches, liquid from raw meat dripping into salads, the stench of rats and mice, and more, at some city eateries.
Only a few of the worst-rated eateries were willing and available to explain why their ratings were so bad.

Council environmental health inspectors said in other cases, hygiene levels were so bad they had no option but to close down outlets.

On one occasion, as an operator was explaining to health inspectors that there were no hygiene issues, a huge cockroach walked on to the bench.

Another noted "the smell of rotting produce hit when opening the car door on arrival to inspect the premises."

And in some eateries, fridges have been so overloaded the food cannot be stored properly; raw meat is left on a higher shelf where it drips into other food such as salad, likely to cause food poisoning.

I’m not a fan of the E grade, because it might be interpreted as excellent, and prefer A, B, C, F (for fail). U2 is hopelessly overrated, apparently like places where Bono hangs out.