Bakers getting the message on food safety

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 30th July 2008

A NSW Food Authority safety survey of bakery products has revealed that 1 in 4 Vietnamese-style rolls tested scored either “unsatisfactory” or had “marginal” satisfactory levels for human consumption, but overall the industry was typically meeting strict food safety guidelines.

The survey of 125 small non-supermarket bakeries was conducted over eight months by the NSW Food Authority and 40 local councils.

“The good news is that out of almost 700 samples, the vast majority of products tested got the green light and were satisfactory,” Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald proclaimed. “Overall we had a satisfactory rating of 91.59% – so the vast majority of bakeries are doing the right thing, there are just some areas that can be improved on to ensure public safety.”

Minister Macdonald is hoping that those in the wrong begin to get the message on food safety. “I congratulate those bakeries doing the right thing but we expect 100% compliance when it comes to public health,” he advised. “But some bakeries fell short in the Vietnamese-style rolls category with almost 20% tested in the marginal satisfactory category and almost six percent of these type of rolls in the unsatisfactory category. The results for custard filled products saw one item testing as potentially hazardous to human health – that was the only item in this category out of 696 samples tested, one is obviously one too many but this is a great result.”

“All unacceptable samples were followed up by either the Food Authority or local councils which included inspection and provision of educational material – and the businesses in question were told to lift their game in these areas,” he added.

Minister Macdonald said in the last three years there had been two food poisoning incidents in Australia, affecting more than 400 people, which were linked to contaminated bakery products. “In March last year more than 300 people allegedly suffered symptoms of food poisoning after eating pork or chicken rolls from a Sydney bakery,” he reported. “This shows there is no room for complacency when it comes to food safety – it is essential hardworking families are getting the top quality product they are paying for.”

Minister Macdonald said most premises were doing the right thing, those that were not would be caught, fined – and named on the Government’s new website.

“Poor hygiene and unsafe food handling practices are unacceptable, and the Food Authority will work with councils and businesses to monitor bakeries closely to make sure their products are up to scratch,” he said.

The 696 samples tested included custard and fresh cream-filled products, non-dairy baked goods, meat-topped breads, Vietnamese-style rolls and sundry items such as cheesecakes and quiches. The results in some categories were markedly better than others. “Meat-topped bread for example had a 98.43% satisfactory rating, while non-dairy based products had a satisfactory rating of 95.83%,” the Minister said.

Overall 97.8% of samples tested were microbiologically acceptable.

The ‘Microbiological Quality of High-risk Bakery Products’ report is available on the Food Authority website: