75% of pregnant women in NZ aren’t aware of dangerous foods

New research from New Zealand has found that 75% of pregnant women aren’t aware of what foods are potentially dangerous.

Researchers took a survey of 205 pregnant women, both those in a hospital and online, between December 2017 and January 2018. The results, according to BabyGaga, can be read in two ways. The good news is that the average woman scored 95% correct. The troubling news? Only 25% scored a perfect score. With things like deadly foods for fetuses, you need 100% in order to be completely protected from the dangers.

What danger foods weren’t readily known by expectant mothers? Baked goods with added cream or custard, hummus, certain salads, and soft/semi-soft Cheese all were among the most missed.

Hummus typically purchased in packages run the risk of listeria. This bacteria poses a danger to an unborn baby as it can cause the immune system to weaken. This, in turn, leads to listeriosis. Pregnant women are told to prepare any hummus at home and make sure to eat it while it is still fresh.

Refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods are generally a no-no. Two recent recalls highlight the risk.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a recall for a popular brand of lunch meat.

Levitts Foods (Canada) Inc. is recalling Compliments Smoked Beef Pastrami 175 g with a best before date of Dec 25th, 2020 

The CFIA said people should not consume the recalled product and instead throw it out or return it to the store they purchased it from. 

The recalled Pastrami was sold at stores in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario and possibly across the country. 

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you and your family sick. 

The CFIA said there have been no illnesses reported. 

This recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings. 

The CFIA is verifying that the industry is removing the recalled product from the marketplace. 

In the UK, Tesco has issued a recall of 80G packets of its own-brand spicy chorizo slices.

Food standards officials reported a detection of Listeria monocytogenes inside some packs of 16.

Packets with the best before end date of 19/12/20 should return the product immediately.

NZ growers provide absolutes and soundbites in campy outbreak

Water is often a concern in fresh produce.

Irrigation water standards associated with FSMA (are the indictors correct? are there geographical differences? Is the measure protective?) are being discussed in food safety meetings all over the place.

In the absence of good science and a whole bunch of variability I figure that folks will eventually just treat water (with something) instead of trying to test their way to safety.Water_Irrigation

Wash water can be trouble too.

I guess we could all move to New Zealand where, according to Newshub, campy has been spread through a municipal water system and local growers, who may or may not have been using the water, say ‘there are no risks because of the food safety systems.’

Growers are desperate to reassure the public it’s safe to eat fruit and vegetables from Hawke’s Bay, despite the region’s contaminated water supply.

“You need to have a fruit cut open… and for contaminated water to touch the cut-open bit of fruit for there to be a problem,” says chief executive Mike Chapman (no relation -ben).
“It’s a long, long, long stretch for anything to be of concern to the public.”

However, many growers in the region are holding off on picking their crops as a precaution.

“Even if [they were], there are no risks because of the food safety systems we have,” says Mr Chapman.

There’s always a risk. Pathogens can internalize. Show me the data.

Same strategy for Olympians in Rio: Close your mouth as chicken offal closes NZ motorway

The source of spilled chicken offal on an Auckland motorway is a mystery, police say.

chicken.offal.nz.jul.16The southbound southern motorway between the Papakura and Drury interchanges was closed until around 3am on Saturday while contractors cleared the mess.

Police said there was “no indication” about where the innards had come from as the spill was only reported after the fact. 

The road has since reopened, according to New Zealand Transport Agency. 

However it could still pay to keep your windows rolled up.

Secret recipe ingredient: Shock after KFC customer discovers fly eggs in NZ meal

In a Facebook post, Sarah-jane Williams says she found fly eggs embedded inside the popcorn chicken she ordered from the KFC restaurant in Pukekohe, south Auckland.

kfcfly.eggs.jan.16Popcorn chicken is a popular KFC product made of “bite-size” pieces of fried chicken.

Williams wrote a public post on a Facebook group page on Friday, saying: “I brought popcorn chicken from Pukekohe KFC today for lunch and I found [a] nice surprise in with some of it. Some fly eggs.”

She later made a complaint on KFC’s Facebook page.

KFC responded on Facebook: “We’re really concerned to see this and we need to investigate this with you.”

NZ childcare centers warned on hand sanitizers

The Ministry of Education will warn all early childhood centers in New Zealand about the risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the wake of an Invercargill 4-year-old girl becoming grossly intoxicated at her preschool.

dumbo-300x188The ministry has completed a two-week investigation into an incident at the Woodhouse Early Learning Centre that resulted in the girl being admitted to hospital with a blood alcohol level of 188mg, nearly four times the new legal driving limit.

The preschool owner, Jackie Woodward, believed the girl got intoxicated from drinking hand sanitizer at the premises without the knowledge of staff.

Her assertion has been backed up by the ministry, which has found it was “most likely” the child drank hand sanitiser.

“We’ve completed the investigation into the incident at Woodhouse Early Learning Centre, where a child was admitted to hospital due to a suspected alcohol intake,” ministry spokeswoman Katrina Casey said.

“Our investigation has shown that it was most likely the child ingested hand sanitizers at the center. We found no alcohol on the premises and the center manager has formally stated that there was no other form of alcohol on the premises.”

Biggest PR screw-up in NZ for 2014? Bad lettuce

The handling of a food poisoning scare involving carrots and lettuce has been deemed the biggest public relations challenge this year by a Wellington PR firm.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145The handling of the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis issue by the Ministry for Primary Industries beat the closure of regional flight routes by Air New Zealand and Roger Sutton’s resignation by the State Services Commission to make the top of the list.

“In a year of dirty politics, what really concerned New Zealanders most was dirty lettuce and carrots,” BlacklandPR director Mark Blackham said.

“Everyone had these vegetables in our fridges, yet no one in authority could say for some time whether they were a health threat.

Millions of people were affected and little information is a recipe for fear, rumours and anger.”

Maggots top NZ food complaints

Gingerbread wriggling with maggots, a sausage roll growing fuzz on it, a salmonella outbreak and the sale of four-year-old frozen oysters were among bought food complaints the Ministry of Primary Industries dealt with from Whangarei in the past three years.

sausage rollOf a dozen complaints in that period, there were four last year and only one this year.

One 2013 incident involved 11 food poisoning cases traced to contaminated butter, rather than an on-site food handling breach, at an undisclosed Whangarei outlet.

But with the season now here for sharing meals, cooking outdoors and carrying food over distances, authorities are warning people to maintain safe handling practices.

Most food poisoning cases stem from food prepared at home, not in the commercial sector, Whangarei District Council regulatory services manager Grant Couchman said.


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.

Alleged chicken ring found in NZ

Authorities have swooped on an alleged illegal poultry operation in South Auckland, seizing chickens, eggs and cash.

Two Manukau properties were raided by investigators after several months of monitoring the chicken enterprise.

Operation Ginger was run by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which said it executed search warrants this week at chicken.shock.may.13the premises, where a group was suspected of killing and processing poultry on a commercial scale.

The operation was in breach of the Animal Products Act 1999, the ministry said.

Investigators were speaking with several people involved with the properties, and “items of interest” had been seized.

This included 149 processed chickens, more than 700 eggs, commercial incubators and processing equipment, documentation identifying sales and a large amount of cash.

As a result of Operation Ginger, the ministry will investigate restaurants and outlets believed to be involved in the purchase and sale of illegal poultry to the public.

Investigations and inspections will take place with other suspected premises believed to be involved with an illegal chicken ring.

Individuals found guilty of contravening the Animal Products Act 1999 face up to two years in prison or a fine of up to $100,000.

“The sale of animal products for human or animal consumption is subject to strict rules to ensure animals are slaughtered humanely and that the resulting meat product is safe for human consumption,” MPI director of compliance Dean Baigent said.