Food Safety Consultancy
Codex Alimentarius Trainers
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Background Information

Food borne illnesses is a term that describes a range of symptoms resulting from eating food contaminated with living germs or poisons they produce. Symptoms can range from mild nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea to severe illness resulting in hospital admission or rarely, even death. Contrary to popular belief, illness is usually not caused by the last thing you ate, in illnesses such as Listeria infection, illness can occur weeks after eating the contaminated food. The incidence of food borne illness in New Zealand has reached alarming levels. An estimated 200,000 or more cases of food borne illness occur each year. Rates of Camphylobacter and Salmonella infection reached record highs in 1998. The number of cases of Camphylobacter infection notified to public health authorities was 11,580 in 1998. The New Zealand rate is three times that of Australia and twice that of the United Kingdom.

Increasing efforts have been made by the food industry and agencies responsible of regulating food safety in New Zealand over the last decade to reduce illness. However, education of the consumer in matters of food safety has not been a focus. It has been estimated that 20-40% of food borne illness is attributed to incorrect handling of food by the consumer. There is a spectrum of responsibility for food safety, which commences with the producer, extends through manufacturers, distributors, retailers and ends with the consumer. A ‘paddock to plate’ approach to food safety is required if New Zealand is to reduce its high levels of food borne illness. All New Zealanders are food consumers and, and if they handle food properly, can provide a crucial last line of defence against food borne illness. In order to prevent food borne illness, the public don’t need to become food hygiene experts and the kitchen does not need to be a sterile place. There are only a limited number of germs that are able to cause food borne illness and in general, these are introduced into the kitchen by unclean hands or on raw food. Analysis of the causes of outbreaks of food borne illness points to a few key safety actions, which if observed, will reduce the chances of illness in the home. The four key safety actions are the four ‘C’:

Clean, Cook, Cover, Chill

Last year after working three years for MAF VA I have visited many institutions such as:

World Trade Organization, World health Organization, United Nation Offices in Rome (FAO), Geneva, Vienna and New York etc. which resulted in being accepted as an International Food Safety Consultant for United Nations.

I have recently completed a mission as part of a UNIDO project in Jordan. My role was to assess the food safety assurance system.

The training of 120 people from different ministry’s and industries etc. in

HACCP principles, SPS-TBT Agreement, Codex Alimentarius Standard and their procedures development, good manufacturing practices and the EU/US standards has been successfully completed.

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