Staff Writer

Leggo’s launches new fresh look pasta sauces and bakes range

Leggo’s has launched new look packaging for its favourite range of tasty Pasta Sauces and Bakes, which includes Health Star Ratings to help consumers make more informed choices when shopping.

In a first for the branded Italian sauces category, Leggo’s has added Health Star Ratings to it’s Pasta Sauces and Bakes range with over 70 per cent of the product achieving 4 Stars. The revamped Leggo’s Pasta Sauces and Bakes range brings the same great quality and taste consumers know and love with the added value of no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

Humble family favourites like the popular Bolognese still remain the best seller in the category and continue to grow as modern additions like red wine, mushroom and bacon take over the dining room tables of Australia.

Made in Australia, out of a local factory in Echuca (Victoria), the Pasta Sauces and Bakes range is the perfect addition to any household pantry. Leggo’s is committed to offering great Italian sauces full of texture and flavour, packing in wholesome ingredients like rich red tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs in each jar to create a tasty family meal.

Kim Fraser, Brand Manager Shelf Sauces at Simplot, said, “We are proud to be the first range in the branded Italian sauce category to include Health Star Ratings on our packaging. Leggo’s continues to strive to help customers make more informed choices when cooking pasta dishes at home.”

Leggo’s new look family range also comes with three new delicious Pasta Sauce flavours: Tomato and Basil, Cheesy Tomato and Garden Vegetable, and two new Pasta Bake flavours: Sundried Tomato and Caramelised Onion Tuna Bake, and Pizza Supreme.

NSW EPA offering food and organics waste collection systems grants

Round 4 of the Local Government Organics Collection Systems grants are now open for councils to apply for funding to reduce and recycle food waste in NSW.

The program is being delivered in partnership with the Environmental Trust, as part of the $465.7 million Waste Less Recycle More program.

EPA Chair and CEO, Barry Buffier said up to $1.3 million is available for local councils to introduce new or enhanced collection services for food and organic waste.

“Each year in NSW, 800,000 tonnes of food waste ends up in landfill from households while businesses contribute 170,000 tonnes. This is why these grants that support collection services are so important.

“Already in the first three rounds we have awarded $15.8 million to 38 councils to collect an estimated 144,000 tonnes more food and garden waste a year. We have also provided 552,669 new green lid bins and kitchen caddies to more than 230,000 homes.

“Now in this fourth and final round, I encourage councils with projects that can be completed by June next year to put in an application, if they have not done so already.

The Local Government Organics Collections Systems grants program is part of a comprehensive strategy to transform organics waste collections across NSW.

“The Government has been working steadily towards its target of providing 70 per cent of NSW homes with kerbside organics collections services by 2017,” Mr Buffier said.

The funding provides a unique opportunity for councils to improve services that will assist residents preserve their local environment.

“Currently approximately 45 per cent of a red lid bin is made up of organics waste, so these new collection services will make a big difference in the amount of household waste being recovered and recycled in NSW.

“In landfill, organics waste breaks down to generate greenhouse gas emissions and leachate. By recycling this waste into compost, then soil quality, water retention and crop yields benefit.

The Local Government Organics Collections Systems grants will transform waste management and recycling in NSW.

Applications close on Thursday 19 May 2016.

Pflitsch cable glands for the food industry

Treotham has partnered with Pflitsch to bring Australia and New Zealand reliable cable glands made in Germany.

The Pflitsch blueglobe CLEAN Plus is the first cable gland to be certified to the high EHEDG standard and given BGN approval, making it suitable for food, pharmaceutical, chemical and clean room applications.

The easy to clean cable glands offer a hygienic design with smooth and round surfaces in contact with the wrench, and no cavities, gaps or external threads. This leaves no chance for residue adherence or the build up of bacteria.

The glands feature superior corrosion protection with the high quality stainless steel grade 1.4404/AISI316L gland body and plastic seals that comply with FDA 21 CFR §177.2600 making them suitable for contact with food. They also achieve ingress protection ratings of IP66, IP68 (up to 15 bar) and IP69K.

The cable glands are currently available in M12 and M40 sizes for cable diameters of 5mm to 29mm and they can be used in temperatures from -40°C to +85°C.

The bluegolbe CLEAN Plus received the iF award for good industrial design in 2014.

Veggie is the most low-carbon diet, right? Well, it depends where you live

It is often claimed that a vegetarian diet is better for the environment, because grazing animals such as cattle and sheep produce a lot of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The areas needed for livestock grazing can also be much larger than those used for crops to produce an equivalent amount of food, so more land is cleared for meat than crops, which causes more carbon to be lost from the landscape.

But wait. As is often the case with complex environmental cycles, particularly those altered by human activities, this is only part of the story. While it is true that ruminants emit a lot of methane, and this is currently the greatest slice of the agricultural emissions pie, it is also true that these are not the only emissions associated with human agriculture.

Cropland generally uses more inorganic fertiliser than pasture, which means that the more plants you eat, the more of your greenhouse footprint comes from nitrous oxide – another potent greenhouse gas linked to use of industrially produced fertiliser.

Unfortunately, this means that sticking to a climate-friendly diet isn’t always just a matter of giving up steak and lamb chops. You also have to consider the soil types and farming practices in the places where your food is produced. And the bad news for Europeans is that eating meat is much harder to justify than it is in Australia, for instance, where livestock tends to be less intensively farmed.

Emissions and soils

Nitrous oxide emissions come from the turnover of nitrogen compounds in the soil, which in turn come from both organic matter (manure, soil organic matter) and synthetic fertilisers (primarily inorganic nitrogen).

This means that the biggest greenhouse impact would come from eating livestock animals that are disconnected from the soil, kept in barns and fed on crops (for instance, beef cattle fed on corn meal) rather than extensively grazing on pastures. This represents a climate double whammy because the crops lead to nitrous oxide emissions and the animals then produce methane.

The other greenhouse gas to consider is, unsurprisingly, carbon dioxide. Healthy soils contain lots of organic matter, which helps to reduce erosion, boosts water storage capacity (and therefore drought resilience), and acts as a storehouse for nutrients (thereby reducing the need for fertiliser).

When land is cleared for agriculture, the amount of soil organic matter can decline dramatically. And because carbon makes up around 50-55% of soil organic matter, this land clearing not only depletes soil health but releases greenhouse gas, as the soil organic carbon is converted to carbon dioxide and released.

Soil organic matter can be restored by plants, which take up atmospheric carbon dioxide as they grow. When they die, their biomass is then (partially) incorporated into the soil and converted into soil organic matter.

So does farming help soils?

The soil organic carbon pool is the largest land-based carbon store and the most dynamic globally of the non-living carbon pools. There is at least twice as much carbon stored in the world’s soils as there is in the atmosphere.

So planting crops to store more carbon sounds like an attractive idea. Unfortunately, however, cultivated soils contain up to 70% less soil organic matter than natural soils, so croplands are actually a net greenhouse emitter.

Conversely, soils used for grazing animals have much higher soil organic matter content than in cropped systems, and roughly the same amount as natural soils. This is probably because many grazed systems are permanent pastures, where plants constantly grow and add to the soil carbon pool (even after the animals have eaten their fill).

But this distinction is not captured by official figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which only reports non-CO₂ emissions from agriculture, and assumes the CO₂ emissions from agriculture to be net zero (CO₂ emissions due to soil carbon loss appear in the “Forestry and other land use” category).

This means that the greenhouse emissions due to crops, and carbon storage in pasture lands, may both be underestimated. This issue is highlighted by our research, which shows that carbon losses from cropped soil extend far deeper than previously believed.

Previous estimates assumed that only the topsoil (generally the top 30 cm) was affected, but we have shown that, in Australia at least, this is not the case – the lower carbon content of cropped soil is detectable all the way down the soil profile. We also found that, at these deeper depths, natural and grazing soils contained very similar amounts of carbon.

As if that were not all complicated enough, there is yet another factor: when livestock manure is returned to the soil, this also boosts soil carbon, making for healthier soils and partially offsetting the animals’ greenhouse emissions. Declining use of animal manure on European crops has beenassociated with a reduction in soil carbon storage.

Food for thought

So what does this all mean? Well, 90% of our energy intake comes directly from the soil, so agricultural practices obviously have a big effect on soil health. If you care about conserving soils as well as minimising your greenhouse emissions, it’s not as simple as just going vegetarian.

Grazing animals can be good for soils, even though their methane emissions are bad for the atmosphere. Working out where the balance sits is a fiendishly tricky question. This is because agricultural emissions are related to individual site factors (such as climate or soil type) as well as agricultural practices (such as fertiliser regime or grazing intensity).

Perhaps the best approach is try to source your food from local suppliers (to reduce your food miles) who do not use intensive agricultural practices (such as frequent tillage or indoor mass-rearing of animals).

If you eat meat, choose free-range, grass-fed animals instead of those fed in barns using food from crops. Get to know how your food is produced, and choose the most sustainable options, whether meaty or not. Small choices can help to save our soils.

Eleanor Hobley, Postdoctoral Fellow, Technical University of Munich and Martin Wiesmeier, Researcher, Technical University of Munich

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Wrigley Pacific appoints new general manager

Confectionary company Wrigley Pacific has appointed Patrick Gantier as General Manager.

Gantier, formerly the General Manager, Mars Food France, has a 20 year career in fast moving consumer goods throughout Europe and the US. Joining Mars Food France in 2008 as Marketing Director, he was appointed General Manager in 2011. Under Gantier’s leadership as General Manager, Mars Food France delivered four years of sustained business growth.

Prior to joining Mars, Gantier worked for 12 years in various marketing roles in France, Central Europe and the US for prominent French multinational cheese manufacturer BEL, where he had success in building brands and effective marketing teams in diverse market environments. Mr Gantier has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance and a Master’s degree in Marketing.

Gantier is joining Wrigley Pacific at an exciting time, with the company recording excellent growth in 2015 off the back of its well-executed relaunch of category-leading Extra chewing gum and the popularity of highly successful brands like Starburst, Skittles and Eclipse mints.

As a subsidiary of Mars, Wrigley Pacific was jointly recognised as one of Asia’s Best Multinational Workplaces 2016, ranking at number eight in the Great Place to Work Awards and the only manufacturing business in the Top 10. It was also recognised as one of Australia’s best workplaces in 2015 by the BRW Great Place to Work Awards. Together, all Mars subsidiaries were ranked as the 15th best places to work in the country, and the only manufacturing businesses in the Top 25.

“It is a great time to be joining Wrigley Pacific,” Gantier said. “We are excited to have the opportunity to explore how we can use local and global shopper insights to partner with retailers and implement forward thinking merchandising solutions. I’m thrilled to be working with such a high performing team and look forward to driving ways in which we can improve the shopping experience and continue to deliver impressive results to drive growth in the gum, mint and confectionery categories.”

‘Packaging for Sustainability’ handbook released

Packaging for Sustainability is a concise and readable handbook for practitioners who are trying to implement sustainability strategies for packaging.

The packaging industry is under pressure from regulators, customers and other stakeholders to improve packaging’s sustainability by reducing its environmental and societal impacts. This is a considerable challenge because of the complex interactions between products and their packaging, and the many roles that packaging plays in the supply chain.

Packaging for Sustainability draws on the expertise of researchers and industry practitioners to provide information on business benefits, environmental issues and priorities, environmental evaluation tools, design for environment, marketing strategies, and challenges for the future.

Industry case studies are used throughout the book to illustrate possible applications and scenarios.

Two of the handbook’s authors , Dr Karli Verghese and Dr Helen Lewis are Fellows of the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP).

Vic dairy processer ripped off backpackers, says Ombudsman

Victorian dairy processer Viplus Dairy underpaid two Taiwanese backpackers almost $7400 over three months, a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation has found.

The workers, who were employed packing infant formula at the company’s site in South Gippsland, were paid a flat rate of $15 an hour . However, according to the relevant award, they should have received $21.09 an hour.

In total, for 92 days of work, each worker was underpaid $3696.

The company argued that, apart from the wages, the backpackers had received free accommodation and utilities. The Ombudsman rejected this defence.

According to, Viplus has previously been accused of underpaying workers. There have been claims amounting to tens of thousands of dollars stretching back to 2012, when the former Bonlac milk factory was bought by parent company Funton Holdings.

The workers, who have since returned to Taiwan, were in Australia on the 417 working holiday or ‘backpacker’ visas.

Fair Work Ombudsman director Craig Bildstien told the ABC the Ombudsman is seeing more complaints of exploitation from 417 visa holders.

“It’s a trend that concerns us. Last year, 12 per cent of all requests that came in to us were from visa holders,” Blidstien said.

“In 2014-15, we recovered more than $1.6 million for underpaid visa holders, which is up from $1.1 million the previous year.”

Babich Wines celebrates centenary year

Babich Wines, one of New Zealand’s oldest family-owned wine brands, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

To mark the milestone, the Babich family has dusted off the archives and is sharing 100 never-before-heard stories from its history. 26 stories were posted on before Christmas. 30 more stories will be added soon. The remainder will be added throughout the year.

“We are throwing the doors open and sharing the most intimate parts of our history,” said Babich Wines Managing Director and second-generation winemaker Joe Babich. “These stories touch on every emotion. A few will have you laughing out loud, some give an interesting glimpse at what winemaking was like in New Zealand in the 1900s, and others are simply hard to believe!

“They really demonstrate that deep personal connection we have had with the vines, the land and the wine since that first bottle was produced by my father, Josip Babich, in 1916 – when he was just 20 years old.”

Babich has also unveiled a centennial Cabernet Sauvignon, the most exclusive wine in its history, using a small parcel of grapes from its 2013 Hawke’s Bay Gimblett Gravels harvest. Only 100 magnums and 330 bottles of special edition wine are available.

In addition, a tribute book, titled The Next Vintage, has been released. It traces Josip’s journey and the 100 years since 1916, when he made his first wine from his own grapes, to the large West Auckland family winery that is now a well-known international brand.

The Babich Wines cellar door – at the family’s very first vineyard in West Auckland – will be given a complete makeover this year, and is expected to be very popular with tourism operators and media. The launch date will be announced later on in the year.

Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, agrees that the centenary is an important milestone, not just for Babich but also for the New Zealand wine industry as a whole.

“Babich Wines and generations of the Babich family are exemplars of all that has made New Zealand wine such an inspiring international success story,” says Philip. “From humble beginnings, with hard work, with enormous dedication and with great vision they have built a highly successful wine business. Their individual enterprise has always been coupled with unwavering service to the wider New Zealand wine industry, for which they are applauded and recognised by their peers.”

Fluid Sensors from Treotham

Wenglor’s range of fluid sensors includes flow, pressure and temperature sensors.

The fluid sensors use a patented measuring process which is unique on the field of flow sensor technology. This allows the products to be mounted without regard to position or flow direction, and deliver precise measurement results with a simple installation.

The uniform design, intuitive operation, large 7-segment display and connection concepts makes the fluid sensors extremely user-friendly. Additionally, a separate LED allows quick recognition of the switching status.

The UniFlow Flow Sensors determine the speed of which media flow within closed systems and measure temperature. They offer a unique, patented measurement method, which is independent from the flow direction. They are suitable for many applications including flow rate monitoring in filling machines, cooling water control, monitoring of cooling water in power generators and cooling of ship electronics.

The UniBar Pressure sensors measure the relative pressure of any media in closed systems in the range of -1 to 600 bar. They are ideal for monitoring processes, pressure in filling systems, filters and compressed air systems. They are also suitable for food and pharmaceutical industries, determining the fill level in tank and silo systems, and pressure regulation of aggregates.

The UniTemp Temperature sensors measure the temperature of liquid and gaseous media, and permit reliable temperature monitoring within processes. They feature a compact design and measure a large range of temperatures from 0 to 200°C. They are used to monitor temperature in brewing processes, monitor flow and return temperatures in solar thermal energy, regulate temperature in cheese production and measure temperature for tempering furnaces.

Three switching outputs are available for each sensor, however depending on requirements the sensors can be equipped with one or two switching outputs, or a switching output in combination with an analogue output.

Murray Goulburn axes 54 jobs

Dairy processor, Murray Goulburn announced to staff yesterday that it will be cutting 54 positions from its Victorian operations.

The company’s Leongatha facility was hit the hardest with a loss of 23 jobs, while Kiewa lost 13, Maffra 11, Cobram four and Rochester three, The Weekly Times reports.

A spokesperson for Murray Goulburn said that the company was focusing on its primary goal of delivering a sustainable increase to its farmgate milk price, and that operational efficiencies are constantly under review.

“We continually review our operations to improve efficiency, productivity and global competitiveness, including investing in new technologies, redesigning workflow and work patterns, improving line efficiencies and cross-skilling,” she said.

The spokesperson said that MG will consider a range of options for employees including redundancy, potential redeployment and current vacancies. All staff impacted by the structural changes will receive their full entitlements and have access to counselling and career transitioning services.


Companies praised for cage-free commitments: RSPCA

Retailers and food manufacturers making an effort to source cage-free eggs were praised this morning at the RSPCA's Good Egg Awards.

Alligator Brand Fresh Pasta was a winner in the awards' manufacturing category, recognised for its long-term commitment to using only cage-free eggs.

Spokesperson for Alligator Pasta, Amanda Beckett, said "We use over 25 tonnes of free range egg pulp for our production each year, so it is important to us that we do this in the most humane way possible. And of course using free range eggs means we produce delicious pasta."

Coles Brand Eggs were praised in the retail category, recognised for its efforts to switch to cage-free eggs – which has been a three year long process.

General manager of responsible sourcing, quality and technology, Jackie Healing, said "Coles is delighted to receive this award in recognition of the work we have done with our Coles Brand Eggs.

"This has always been about responding to our customers’ wishes for great value eggs that are not produced in a cage environment.

"We would like to recognise and thank our suppliers who supported us on this journey which has been so good for customers, for farmers and especially for the hens," said Healing.

Today's Good Egg Awards also delivered a Commendation to IKEA Australia which has made the commitment to commence sourcing only cage-free eggs for use in its cafes.

Special mentions also went to Flinders University, Byron Shire Council and The Cupcake Room for showing leadership in their industries.

RSPCA Australia CEO, Heather Neil, said "Importantly, these moves by major brands demonstrate that not only are Australian consumers demanding higher welfare products and becoming more interested in where and how their food is produced and sourced

"But they also show its possible and feasible in a business sense to make more humane choices in the supply chain," she said.

"These companies have helped to improve the welfare of hens and made it easier for consumers to look for higher welfare products when shopping."

The awards presentation was preceded by the 2013 Great Cage Free Cook-Off, where four journalists from the food industry (including yours truly!) whipped up an omelette using cage-free eggs and a variety of other ingredients. Photos are on their way….


Food manufacturers question effectiveness of star rating system

The Star food rating system which has been designed to help consumers make informed and more healthful decisions at the checkout is being rejected by major food manufacturing players.

Simplot, Nestle and Unilever along with peak lobby group, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) have questioned the effectiveness of the new government imposed system sighting a hike in labelling costs and potential job losses as the primary reasons.

Terry O’Brien, managing director of food processing giant Simplot believes that the new system could cost the $3m for the company to implement across its entire food portfolio.

O’Brien who is also chairman of the AFGC, told ABC News that the star rating system would not tackle food related issues such as diabetes and obesity.

"At Simplot, we've run our products through the suggested system and we've got anomalies all over the place, where things like products with no salt are not getting a better rating than the same product with salt.

"So if these sort of anomalies in our hands, then how the heck are they going to help the consumer?"

The star system is a product of two years of negotiation between the health sectors, government and the food industry.

 AFGC CEO, Gary Dawson estimates that the repacking could cost the food industry up to $14,000 per product equating to more than $200m across the industry.

However, health industry expert Michael Moore from the Public Health Association of Australia, who was involved in the design process of the rating system, believes that it is a small price to pay considering the burden of diabetes and cardiovascular disease on the nation’s health system.

“It’s peanuts compared with the cost of diabetes, cardiovascular, all the diseases associated with obesity and what it’s going to cost to treat them,” Moore told Financial Review Sunday


Hep A outbreak linked to frozen berries

A Hepatitis A outbreak in Europe has struck at least 71 people, believed to be linked to frozen berries used in smoothies.

According to Food Safety News, at least 35 people have fallen ill in Denmark, and another 36 across Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Swedish authorities have announced that so far this year, the country is experiencing ten times to normal number of Hep A cases.

While most affected patients have reported consuming berries or smoothies close to the time that they fell ill, investigators haven't yet established a particular brand or berry origin responsible.

Hepatitis A has an incubation period of between 15 and 50 days, and due to the delay involved in reporting the disease, authorities are expecting more cases to emerge in the near future.


Research program to boost innovation in food: AFGC

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has welcomed the first round of the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Program, saying it will boost innovation and productivity capability in the food sector.

The Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Program offers funding schemes to both university-based researchers and industries, encouraging R&D projects that could help solve the big problems facing industries today.

The program will deliver more than $23m to drive innovation and productivity in the food industry.

AFGC CEO, Gary Dawson, said "Innovation is of critical importance to Australia’s $110b food and grocery manufacturing industry. This important investment will be a significant boost to Australia’s potential to become a food manufacturing hub for the Asian Century.

"The AFGC has long supported enhanced collaboration between the food industry, research agencies and both large and small companies in the food manufacturing sector to unlock the innovative capacity of Australia’s advanced food manufacturing sector," he said.

Dawson congratulated food companies Kraft Foods Australia, The Smith’s Snackfood Company Limited and Simplot Australia for being part of successful applications.

"The preparedness of globally significant companies to make major co-investments in establishing research hubs and training centres signals confidence in the strength of the Australian food manufacturing sector," he said.

Dawson also used the opportunity to share his excitement on a similar project, supported by the AFGC and aimed at combatting international competition.

"We are also pleased that the University of Queensland, with the support of the AFGC and member companies Simplot Australia, SunRice, Goodman Fielder, Pepsico ANZ and Campbell-Arnott's can begin work on its $2.7m project that aims to help food processing and manufacturing companies meet the increasing threats of international competition. This training centre project further underlines the collaborative working partnership between our two organisations," he said.

"Innovation is at the heart of the industry's vision for a competitive future and it maintains a huge potential for growth into Asia. The Industrial Transformation Research Program will greatly benefit the food processing industry to able to compete on a global stage and maintain its strong domestic operational presence."


Disease resistant chickpeas set to boom overseas

The Australian chickpea industry is set for a comeback after researchers developed two new chickpea varieties.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) say two new chickpeas will ‘take the Indian market by storm”, and help the industry recover after it was devastated in 1999 by a fungal disease.

The Ambar and Neelam varieties were commercially released this month, with their names chosen to appeal to the export market. The new varieties have taken their names from the Hindi words for “amber” and “blue sapphire”.

According to UWA’s website, Western Australia’s chickpea industry grew rapidly from the mid-1990s and rose to be a 70,000 hectare, grain legume crop until the fungal disease, ascochyta blight, crippled the industry 13 years ago.

Developers of the new varieties, UWA Professors Tanveer Khan and Kadambot Siddique, have confirmed the chickpea’s resistance to ascochyta blight in other parts of Australia and India. This should mean a cut in production costs for farmers as little to no fungicide needs to be used.

"These two new ascochyta resistant varieties should play a pivotal role in rejuvenating the chickpea industry," Professor Siddique said.


Mariner sells stake in Capilano

 Mariner Corporation has finally sold down its stake in Capilano Honey.

The deal, with Queen Street Nominees, saw Mariner offload its 12.65% stake in the company.

Settlement for the deal is required on or before 13 April.

Mariner only acquired the stake in Capilano in January this year from the Guiness Peat Group, along with stakes in three other companies.

These have now all been sold.

According to Mariner, it will generate a gross profit of $345 000 from the sale of the Capilano stake.

New sensors helping with our food supply

Industrialisation has left much of the urban environment contaminated with a variety of heavy metals, chemicals and pesticide residue. Now, research by a team from Macquarie University has produced a series of maps that plot the concentrations of metal pollutants across cities like Sydney and Darwin, and towns such as Mount Isa and Port Pirie.

The Director of the Macquarie team is Professor Mark Taylor, an academic and former Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court. Senior researcher, Marek Rouillon, and the rest of the group, investigate environmental pollution and risks to human health from aerosols, dusts, sediments, soil and water. The team works in a range of locations across Australia, including Broken Hill, Mount Isa, Newcastle, Port Pirie, Sydney and Townsville.

Results of the survey indicate the spread of contamination in many ways reflected the growth of major cities, with the highest concentrations in older suburbs. The contaminant of most concern across Sydney backyards is lead. According to Professor Taylor, it would be expected that there would be contamination in a major city. “We live in an industrial environment,” he said, adding that, “We have used lead-based petrol and paint for most of the 20th Century.”

One technique that is key to the work being conducted by the Macquarie team is X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) analysis for measuring levels of contaminant metals. Simple screening for toxic metals is performed by placing an analyser, such as the Delta Premium from Olympus directly onto soil or dust. The analyser provides detection of metals for site characterisation, contamination tracking, remediation, monitoring, and property evaluations.

Andrew Saliba, Regional Sales Specialist with Olympus, said the latest portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analysers, such as the Delta Premium, have been developed specifically for complete environmental investigations of metal contaminants in a wide range of industrial and domestic materials. The high-power, high-performance, incredibly rugged Delta allows in-situ analysis in a wide range of harsh environments from remote mining and exploration sites to backyards in major urban centres.

According to Saliba, the traditional use of pXRF has been for alloy identification, grading ore, mineral exploration, metallurgy and mine site remediation. “The technology has been refined and is now often used by environmental consultancies specialising in contaminated land remediation and recycling companies needing to determine what materials are in waste products,” he said.

Macquarie researcher Marek Rouillon has been working to evaluate the reliability and repeatability of XRF analysis on environmental samples. Professor Taylor and Rouillon regularly present their findings at seminars, outlining the spread of heavy metal contamination in suburban gardens in addition to explaining the application and relevance of the pXRF instrument for this project.

Typical 'natural' or 'background' concentrations of lead for the Sydney region are in the range 20 – 30 mg/kg or parts per million (ppm). However, due to the intense use of lead containing products, much of Greater Sydney has been contaminated with the metal. Their results indicate Sydney residences have a mean soil lead concentration of 220 mg/kg, which is approximately 10 times the typical natural background for Sydney's soils and rocks.

In conjunction with the contamination mapping, Macquarie researchers also run the community orientated VegeSafe program. This is the largest study of its kind in the country and has provided information about metal contamination levels to more than 500 households across Sydney, and over 1000 households across Australia.

VegeSafe seeks to inform people about metals and metalloids in their garden soils and provides a free sampling program for domestic and community garden soils. Participants submit soil samples from private or community gardens and receive a formal report and links to information and advice about "what to do next" if the soils contain elevated concentrations of metals and metalloids. “The VegeSafe motto is 'Carry on Gardening'," Professor Taylor said, “because this is exactly what we want people to do knowing that their soils are metal free as is the produce from their gardens.”

According to Rouillon, the simplest mitigation technique for householders would be to cover the contaminated soil with either grass or mulch, to effectively reduce the potential generation of dust if the soil is dry and gets picked up by wind.

In contaminated suburbs where vegetables will be grown, the Macquarie team recommends growing produce in above ground Vegetable plots, using fresh clean topsoil. “Typically, undisturbed soil in urban areas accumulates contaminants over long periods of time and should be avoided when growing home produce” Rouillon stated.

“Our recommendations are determined by different scenarios and contaminant concentrations,” Rouillon said. “VegeSafe provides specific recommendations and advice to a gardener for their particular situation.”


Chinese dairy company seeks SA processing plant investment

Chinese company Blue Lake Dairy (BLD) has applied for a permit to create a $AUD15million milk processing and packaging plant in Tantanoola, South Australia.

The application was lodged to the Wattle Range City Council to transform an old potato chip factory into the milk processing plant. If approved, operations will begin in June or July with most of the powdered milk and formula products exported to China. 

The dairy plant is the first of a two-part project by BLD, the second is a $AUD50million investment into technology to produce their own base milk powder. 

According to the Financial Review, Sarah Barnett, BLD’s spokesperson, the company had agreements to receive milk from South Australian and Victorian farms.  

The Associate Director for rural and agribusiness transactions at Colliers International Jesse Manual said that the dairy clients would benefit from another milk buyer and would bring more farm investors to the region.

“I think it’s fair to say that dairy production, and now processing, is very well placed to be a major economic contributor to the south-east region long term.”

Image: The Adelaide Advertiser

Australian Pavilion set for ProPak Asia packaging event

The Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) will launch the first Australian Pavilion at ProPak Asia 2016.

The event takes place in Bangkok from 15-18th June. There will be two pavilions and companies already confirmed as exhibitors include HMPS, Adaptapack, Rhima, Confoil, Accupack, the APPMA and the AIP. Outside of the pavilion other APPMA Member companies such as TNA, Heat & Control and Fibre King will also be exhibiting at the show.

The APPMA identified a need to help Australian packaging and processing manufacturers and distributors by creating an Australian Pavilion at ProPak Asia each year. The pavilion will enable Australian manufacturers and distributors to showcase their products and companies to the Asian market in an affordable way.

ProPak Asia is Asia’s No.1 international processing & packaging trade event for Asia’s expanding food, drink & pharmaceutical industries. With a proven track record over 24 successful editions ProPak Asia consistently delivers results as well as quality trade visitors from across Asia. Visitors come to ProPak Asia to see and buy the latest technologies, machines, products and services.

ProPak Asia 2016 has a focused approach for the industry with six dedicated zones, including DrinkTechAsia, FoodTechAsia, Lab&TestAsia, PackagingMaterialsAsia, PharmaTechAsia and PrintTechAsia to highlight growing demand from these sectors.

Research hub to transform food industry’s relationship with Asia

The University of Melbourne and Mondelēz International Asia Pacific have launched “Unlocking the Food Value Chain: Australian Food Industry Transformation for ASEAN Markets.”

The ARC-funded research hub will aim to gain insights to unlock Asian consumer behaviour and market levers, and inform innovation in ingredient use, consumer experience and product design and packaging.

This will advance the positioning of Australia as a premium brand and lead to a sustained competitive advantage and will assist the creation of more productive supply chains across the food industry.

The $10 million collaborative research hub includes $2 million funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) under the Industrial Transformation Research Programme (ITRP).

Research collaboration opportunities

The research hub is able to assist businesses by conducting research in priority areas.

Mondelēz International and the University of Melbourne have committed to share research outcomes with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the wider sector through an open innovation model in a transformational project with national benefits.

It comprises six research streams, namely Consumer Insights, Market Analytics, Sensory Analysis, Supply Chain Management, Packaging Innovation, and Encapsulation and Emulsion.

The Unlocking the Food Value Chain hub draws on research expertise from five University of Melbourne faculties and schools: Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences; Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; Science; Business and Economics; the School of Engineering as well as Swinburne University of Technology. Mondelēz International contributes extensive research and marketing experience in the Southeast Asian region to each of the streams.

Industry services

The research hub is also able to assist businesses by providing market intelligence services. For example, the Market Analytics team has developed a novel intellectual property searching technique which analyses consumer-identified attributes of premium food products to allow businesses to understand food innovation trends and opportunities in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and India.

The hub has also refined Qualitative Multivariate Analysis (QMA), a method of comparing the marketability of new and existing products ASEAN markets.

Professor Frank Dunshea, hub Director and University of Melbourne Chair of Agriculture, said the development of the Unlocking the Food Value Chain hub had been guided by the needs of industry.

“The Australian food industry is driven by innovation – in how we target consumers, in the products we create, in how we market and deliver them,” he said.

“Businesses exporting to Southeast Asia need to understand their market and how they can deliver the best possible product at competitive prices. This hub provides services which will enable Australian businesses to do so.

“The Unlocking the Food Value Chain hub is working to help Australian businesses create products which have instant appeal for local consumers in South East Asian nations with technologically advanced processing and packaging.”