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There is no doubt that Australia's food production industry is held in the highest of standards. Exporting millions of dollars of produce across the world every year, the success of many businesses relies on demand from foreign nations.
However, as New Zealand milk giant Fonterra learnt in 2013, it only takes one bad headline to undo decades of hard work. While the latest Australia lettuce scandal is yet to hit the same heights, the events of recent weeks have highlighted the importance of food manufacturing business leaders keeping a close eye on HACCP.
The leafy details
This particular case began on February 4 after Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services issued a salmonella infection warning in relation to a number of pre-packed lettuce products out of one company.
The lettuce was sold in supermarkets in salad mixes, pre-packaged sandwiches at selected 7-Eleven stores or distributed to community facilities such as hospitals and schools. After a number of complaints from the public, authorities narrowed down the offending lettuce and further testing confirmed the presence of the Salmonella anatum strain.
Upon this discovery, all lettuce products from this manufacturer were voluntarily recalled and a general health warning was issued. Nationwide, consumers were urged to return purchases to stores to slow the salmonella infection.
The company has now launched an investigation into the cause of the salmonella and undertaken a comprehensive clean-up of its premises. While the results of this enquiry aren't confirmed, authorities have allowed the business to resume operations.
On February 8, The New Daily reported an assurance from the company that its lettuce products were back on helves and safe for consumers.
Wider implications for food manufacturers?
"Australian quality assurance (QA) standards are recognised throughout the world as being of the highest quality."
While it isn't clear yet what caused the salmonella outbreak, this provides a timely wake-up call for those involved in food production.
AUSVEG National Manager of Scientific Affairs Dr Jessica Lye, explained the food industry has high standards – something that must continue moving forward.
"Australian quality assurance (QA) standards are recognised throughout the world as being of the highest quality, and Australian produce is renowned internationally for this reason."
"Given the significant amount of leafy vegetable products that are on store shelves every year, food safety incidences are exceedingly rare, and the food recall system has been swift and effective in responding to this isolated case."
Of course, from farm to table, there are many areas where food safety is a concern. In particular, moving products from location to location.
Whether exposed to heat, humidity or unhygienic conditions, investments in plastic pallets are a smart option for businesses concerned about quality assurance. At Eco Pallets, our hygienic pallets feature enclosed surfaces which prevent impurities such as salmonella building up in heir structure.
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