Food poisoning is becoming a serious issue in South Australia with 2017 having the largest number of recorded cases in recent history. Salmonella cases alone were 15% higher than the preceding 5-year average.
The largest outbreak in 2017 was at the Intercontinental Hotel in Adelaide. Guests dining on the buffet breakfast became ill due to food cross-contaminated with salmonella from eggs. In total 140 people felt unwell, 85 were confirmed as having salmonella poisoning and 20 people were admitted to hospital.
In a more recent outbreak, customers of Gawker Street Bakery fell ill after eating sandwich-like products containing chicken. In this outbreak 49 people fell ill and 9 were admitted to hospital. Some of those who fell ill were in the high risk groups for food poisoning including a pregnant woman, a 2 year old and a 70 year old.
In other outbreaks in South Australia:
- 24 children in an after-hours care facility fell ill with gastroenteritis due to inadequate sanitising procedures on the premises
- 14 customers of the Pork Pie Shop at Victor Harbour fell ill after eating pork pies
- 12 people fell ill after eating chicken liver parfait and chicken galantine at a wedding
- 8 people fell ill after eating contaminated egg wraps and sandwiches from an SA bakery
Is Food Safety Training The Solution?
In most cases, food poisoning is easily preventable through the management of:
- Time and temperature control
- Personal hygiene of staff
- Effective cleaning and sanitising procedures
Staff that are adequately trained would have a good working knowledge of all of the above plus more.
Food workers in South Australia must follow Food Standard 3.2.2 which states that they must have food safety skills and knowledge applicable to their role.
But does South Australia need to come into line with some of the other states of Australia in regards to food safety training?
In NSW, ACT, Victoria and Queensland all food premises must have one nominated Food Safety Supervisor. This person is responsible for all food safety in the business and their details are supplied to the health authorities as part of the business licensing. This means that there is one person clearly identified as being responsible for food safety who health inspectors can contact in regards to food safety issues.
To become a Food Safety Supervisor, these employees need to complete a specific Food Safety Supervisor course, the content of which is determined by government agencies, and which can only be delivered by an approved Registered Training Organisation. The Food Safety Supervisor is responsible for ensuring all of the Food Handlers that work for the business are trained properly in food safety.
Perhaps with the recent spate of outbreaks it's time for the authorities in South Australia to consider bringing the state into line with mandatory nationally recognised food safety education for it's food workers.