Food crisis conference to help plan for the “unthinkable”
Food poisoning outbreaks and the range of preventative measures will be the focus of a major food crisis management conference in Sydney, Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said today.The ‘Issues and Crisis Management in the Food Industry’ conference to be held in Sydney this morning will include several international experts to discuss a wide range of worrying issues. “Case studies to be examined include the foot and mouth disease and bluetongue outbreaks that have recently occurred in the UK; the Salmonella contamination in chocolate incident in the UK, and E coli contamination in spinach in late 2006,” Minister Macdonald advised. “In addition to the international line-up, local experts will examine crisis case studies such as the recent equine influenza outbreak and dioxins in Sydney Harbour.”
Mr Macdonald claimed incidents like the Garibaldi food poisoning outbreak in Adelaide in 1995 were still in the memories of the public and food industry professionals alike.
“The Garibaldi tragedy, where a four-year-old girl died and 23 children became severely ill from eating contaminated smallgoods, is a salutary lesson for all food industry operatives,” he said. “Disasters like the Garibaldi incident have a real human cost; they also have the potential to destroy companies and whole industry sectors.
“A Garibaldi salami incident (1995), a Wallis Lakes oyster event (1997) or a Nippy’s orange juice scare (1999) can devastate an entire product sector – not to mention the victims affected.
“Preventing a crisis in the first place is absolutely vital, but food businesses still need to plan for the unthinkable.
“These tragic food incidents in our recent past underscore the need for every business to prepare for the worst.
“To ignore or skimp on crisis planning is very poor management indeed. We all need to learn lessons from these tragedies so they don’t happen again in the future,” Minister Macdonald concluded.