Milking the happy cow image

The image of a healthy, happy cow grazing on a lush pasture is probably the first that comes to mind when thinking about Australia and New Zealand’s dairy products.

And, for the most part, that image is in line with reality.

Both countries have long enjoyed a high reputation for the quality and safety of their dairy products. Moderate climate, abundant grazelands and access to water mean pasture is available for cows to graze outside, which adds to the reputation of Australian and New Zealand dairy products as high in nutritional value.

This positive industry image bodes well for the two countries’ export markets. A study in 2020 confirmed that the positive perception around Australia’s ‘pure and natural farmlands’ is quite strong in major dairy consumer markets in Southeast Asia.1 Dairy is also the largest export sector in New Zealand, accounting for one in every three dollars New Zealand earns from the goods export trade.2

With both countries’ economies so reliant on dairy exports, food testing laboratories such as AsureQuality’s Auckland laboratory process millions of dairy samples – from raw and treated milk to powdered milk, butter, and cheese – each year to support New Zealand exporters and help them meet Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs) in their destination countries.

Michael Hodgson, Group Service Manager – Food Testing at AsureQuality, which conducts approximately 1.4 million dairy sample tests per year, says access to quality chemicals and laboratory consumables is essential to our business of supporting dairy exporters through fast and accurate testing services.

To read the full article, go here.

Buyer beware: EHS due diligence is more important than ever

With every merger and acquisition (M&A) deal comes a range of potentially significant risks. You don’t want to unnecessarily pay more for an asset than it’s worth, and you certainly don’t want expensive surprises or obstacles once you’ve already signed on the bottom line. That’s why it’s essential to understand, as fully as possible, just what you’re getting into.

Read more

Food cold chain education needed and is coming soon

A new training initiative based on the thermometer is about to be introduced to the Australian cold chain industry. It is seen as a practical move to help combat the country’s serious food loss and wastage problem, estimated to cost the country nearly $4 billion a year at farm gate value.
The Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC), the peak advocacy body comprising concerned industry leaders covering refrigeration assets, transport and food distribution, will release an online education program, Thermometers and the Cold Chain Practitioner this month.
The program is aimed squarely at those the AFCCC regards as the super heroes of the food cold chain process – the people who oversee the movement of food through refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across the nation.
Industry research convinced the AFCCC that Australia desperately needed a new Cold Food Code that should be adopted by industry to stimulate a nation-wide educational push to bring Australian cold chain practices up to the much higher international standard.
The educational program starting with temperature measurement is the first of a planned five-code series.
The AFCCC has invested in new online education software that will be used to develop training programs to support the release of the actual Code document that will cover temperature technologies and how they should be used for monitoring a variety of foods carried in the cold chain.
The initiative runs alongside the work being done by other authorities, including Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) and the Commonwealth Government, which has signed up to a United Nations treaty to halve food wastage by 2030.
Some of the rising levels of national food wastage is considered to be the result of poor temperature management, and poor understanding of how refrigeration works in a range of storage environments. This includes from cold storage rooms through to trucks and trailers, and even home delivery vans.
Australia has world-class refrigeration and monitoring technologies, but the AFCCC believes industry will have to adopt serious training programs so that those responsible for moving food and pharmaceuticals around the country can get the best out of the available technologies.
Because of the vast distances in this country, food transport is a series of refrigerated events, in the hands of a range of stake holders.
Mangoes picked in the Northern Territory may be handled through stationary and mobile refrigerated spaces as many as 14 times by multiple owners on a 3,400 km journey to Melbourne.
If temperature abuse through poor refrigeration practices occurs in just one of those spaces, the losses at the consumer end are compounded, and shelf life can be either drastically reduced, or result in the whole load being sent to landfill.
People working at the coalface of the industry can sign on independently to do the course, which the AFCCC believes will be an important next phase in their professional journey. Kindred organisations involved in the cold chain will be encouraged to become retailers of the education program. Many industry groups have already signed up to help drive cold chain practitioners to the training program from their own websites.
There will only be modest charges for the course, which will help fund AFCCC’s continuing work on assembling the research and expertise to complete further parts of the overall Code of Practice. This will ultimately be gifted to the cold chain industry for the purposes of universal adoption.
The extent of food wastage in this country should not be under-estimated.  It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten and end up in land fill or rotting at the farm gate. This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth $3 billion.
A government-sponsored study released earlier in 2020 revealed that meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million.
It’s not just the wasted food at stake. The impacts on greenhouse emissions, water usage and energy consumption will end up being felt nationwide.
The AFCCC was formed in mid 2017 by a cross section of industry leaders covering manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain services.
The Council sees itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.
The new Council is not about promoting an industry – it wants to change the industry for the better. It acknowledges that Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect.

Five tips on digestive health

Your immunity may not be as strong as you think
These days, catching a cold can sometimes be unavoidable. And we all need to work harder to make sure we’re staying ahead of the curve and self-isolating when appropriate. With the Winter season upon us, we often turn to antibiotics when things get worse. But a little known fact is that antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, including the good ones known as probiotics, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.

Probiotics are known to help and there are well over 400 probiotic strains in our bodies. Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” many are actually helpful – particularly when it comes to digesting food, destroying disease-causing cells, or producing vitamins.

“Staying healthy during COVID-19 is so important and there are often little things you could do proactively to look after your gut health and help give your immune system a lift,” said Meluka Australia CEO Ben Rohr.

“If you’ve recently taken antibiotics, it’s important to make sure you get your gut health back to shape, and probiotics can be the answer.”

Enzymes do all the heavy lifting
When it comes down to it, enzymes play an incredibly important role in keeping you safe and healthy. They are located in your digestive system and are what separate food into the different nutrients that your body needs.

“Most Aussies underestimate the pivotal role that enzymes play in preserving our gut health. When you are first born, you don’t have any of the healthy bacteria your system needs to digest food,” said Rohr.

“As we get older, our enzymes weaken, the muscles in the digestive tract become stiffer, and it makes it harder for the body to keep storing healthy bacteria. But not all bacteria is bad for you, particularly when it comes to maintaining a healthy and balanced gut microbiome.”

Antioxidant food and drinks are the way to go
Foods like honey, nuts, seeds and berries contain a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which act as a fuel for microbes that help with digestion. You’ve probably heard of antioxidants before, but they are essentially substances that help slow down or prevent damage to cells caused by oxidation.

Avoid dodgy additives
We’ve all been warned for decades about the dangers of additives like artificial sweeteners, but you may not know why. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (found in soft drinks) and sucralose (sugar substitute) can disrupt metabolism, reduce gut diversity and can often lead to problems later in life such as diabetes.

“It’s also wise to avoid processed foods where possible, and consume a range of different food types instead,” said Rohr. “Food and vitamin supplements are often not what they’re cracked up to be either, as only a small portion of these are beneficial.”

Go to the countryside and spend more time with man’s best friend
Some studies claim that pet owners have a more diverse microbiome, while those living in rural areas were also shown to have more microbial diversity. Studies have also shown that small quantities of alcohol can increase microbe diversity, but with all vices, it’s important not to indulge too much, as large quantities of alcohol can be harmful to your gut health.


Food manufacturer switches to hand sanitiser

One of Queensland’s oldest family-owned companies and best-known food manufacturers Trisco Foods is fighting back against the COVID-19 pandemic by developing and launching its own brand of clinical-grade hand sanitiser in just three weeks.

The company, which normally produces syrups and thickeners, today completed the first bottling of its new hand sanitiser that will be sold to aged care centres and health departments across the country.

About 35,000 litres of hand sanitiser will be produced every week at the company’s Carole Park factory with volumes to increase over coming weeks as safety systems and processes are expanded. The product will initially be available in 3lt bottles and 500ml flip cap bottles.

Trisco Foods CEO Mike Tristram said the company had been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and had been looking for new opportunities to utilise their product R&D and mass production capabilities.

“To effectively fight COVID-19 now and into the future we are going to need a lot of hand sanitiser and after some initial feasibility studies worked out we could quickly ramp up production of a product that met the highest standards and could be used in a range of clinical situations,” he said.

“Businesses all over the world are adapting and evolving to the new world and this is one we can not only strengthen our business and retain jobs, but also help fight the outbreak.”

Trisco, which was named Premier of Queensland’s Exporter of the Year last year, normally produces world class food ingredients, such as syrups and sundaes, that are used here and abroad by leading food companies.

The company also produces the highly successful Precise Thick-N range of instant liquid thickeners that helps maintain the health of people suffering from swallowing problems and neurological-related dysphagia. Last year, the company expanded to the US with a new factory at Colorado Springs.

The sanitiser, which will be produced under the Precise Defend brand, is 80% ethanol and provides antibacterial hand cleansing without the need for water.

Tristram said the high level of Ethanol required a range of stringent health and safety protocols to protect staff during the manufacturing process.

“Unlike a lot of sanitising products, clinical solutions used in hospitals and aged care facilities require a high level of ethanol which can be a dangerous product in its purest form,” he said.

“Developing a formula, training staff and re-working some of our production equipment has been a massive undertaking and our staff have done an incredible job to get us to the point where our first product is rolling off the line.”

The product will initially be distributed through aged care centres where the company has exiting relationships but will eventually be available to hospitals and government health authorities.

The Tristram family is well known among older Queenslanders as the name behind the soft drink with the marketing slogan, “Say Tristrams Please”. The brand and soft drink business were sold to Cadbury Schweppes in 1970 when the Trisco Foods company began and the family concentrated on the ingredients business.

After more than 140 years manufacturing a range of food and beverage products in Brisbane, the company earlier this year unveiled plans for its first offshore facility in Colorado Springs.

The Precise Thick-N range of instant liquid thickeners make soft food and liquids easier to swallow without impacting the nutritional benefits or taste. After just six years Precise Instant has become the dominant design and is the market leading product and has displaced traditional powder-based thickeners in most aged care facilities and hospitals around the country.


Proactive safety with SmartWasher

When a large trans-Tasman dairy facility bought eight of CRC Industries’ SmartWasher Bioremediating Parts Washing Systems, it was able to eliminate the use of harsh, solvent-based cleaners alongside all the associated risks that come with them, reducing the company’s liability and achieving better cleaning efficiencies.

“Its just a matter of time before everyone goes down this path,” CRC business development manager of the APAC region, Steve Colson, said. “All the big guys use it, and that has a lot to do with simplifying workplace OH&S compliancy.”

CRC’s SmartWasher exceeds standards in this regard. Colson said that the CRC SmartWasher requires less personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Customers were mostly driven to make the change to our SmartWasher because of bad reactions to parts washer solvents on their skin,” Colson said. “With the SmartWasher, all you need is gloves, rather than the full gamut of chemical gloves, protective aprons and breathing devices.

“Solvent-based cleaners expose people to skin irritants and vapours, create toxic liquid waste and you end up trying to clean parts with a filthy liquid and then dispose of all that hazardous waste.”

The CRC SmartWasher uses a pH neutral, non-hazardous, non-flammable water-based cleaning solution, and allows for the washing of parts at a comfortable 42 degrees. It also exceeds standards in regards to the environment.

The SmartWasher has been named a ‘Safer Choice product’ by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a certification granted once all ingredients have been analysed in order to determine there are no harmful effects to humans.

Distributor of CRC Industries products, BSC has been supplying to the food and beverage industry since 1921.

“We’re right on board with this revolutionary component cleaning system from the get-go taking these units to some of Australia leading dairy, biscuit and raw produce processing plants,” said BSC’s national product manager, lubricants, Steve Keown.

According to Keown, the facilities were drawn to the product because they take climate responsibility seriously and the CRC SmartWasher is an environmentally friendly product, which is something that the distributor also takes seriously.

“People want to use safer and more environmentally responsible parts washers and to show their customers they are dealing with waste responsibly,” he said.

Through the process of bioremediation, the SmartWasher is self-cleaning, as well as safe to use. In this instance, bioremediation is the use of microbes to break down or neutralise hazardous substances and contaminants, removing dangerous chemicals in the environment.

Colson said that microbes are introduced every month to keep the SmartWasher colony at optimal strength, breaking down cheese, chocolate and dairy fat. CRC Industries names its blend of nonpathogenic (harmless to humans) microbes in the SmartWasher system “Ozzy”.

“Solvents attack deposits from the outside whereas a surfactant breaks the bond between the part and the dirt, so it lifts off rather than dissolves. That means the SmartWasher’s cleaning action looks different, but it can dislodge deposits some solvents won’t touch.”

Ozzy microbes also eat the potentially harmful waste in the SmartWasher and then transform it into small quantities of harmless by-products of carbon dioxide and water, eliminating the need for disposing mass amounts of used fluid, as well as being safe to use.

A similar process has been used in the clean up of dangerous oil spills, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in March of 1989 and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April 2010.

According to Colson, there is 3.3kg of inert solid waste to dispose of a year with the SmartWasher compared to 377kg of hazardous waste – plus disposal fees – for solvents changed every six weeks. The SmartWasher compares favourably to simpler, water-based units as well as the solvent cleaners. For example, there’s no need to change the liquid in a SmartWasher, just the filter mat once a month in order to keep the microbe colony strong and effective. The filter traps larger particles and the emulsified waste drops into the tank where microbes consume it at the rate of 1-2 litres per week.

The Ozzy formula has been refined and improved over the years, and CRC will continue to apply research and development to further enhance the product.

GFNC said to guarantee macadamia food safety with Napasol pasteurisation technology

South Africa-based Green Farms Nut Company (GFNC) has announced its investment into foremost Napasol pasteurisation technology, to meet and surpass current and future food safety requirements in key export destinations around the world. This decision underscores the organisations ongoing commitment to deliver best in class quality product to its customers, as well as secure value for their supply base of producers and farmers.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), globalisation, urbanisation and changing consumer habits has resulted in a longer and increasingly complex global food supply chain. These challenges put greater responsibility on food producers and handlers to ensure food safety. The WHO urges building and maintaining focus on adequate food systems and infrastructures, like laboratories and legal frameworks, as well as multi-sectoral collaboration between governments and stakeholders through the value chain.

“GFNC is extremely pleased to be in the position to proactively take responsibility for our role in the ongoing and inevitable changes taking place in the food industry at large, and macadamia sector more specifically. This decision is a crucial part of our strategy to continue growing and refining processing capability. In so doing retain value add capacity and supply chain accountability at source in South Africa,” said Allen Duncan, CEO, GFNC.

Approximately 25 per cent of South Africa’s macadamias are processed by GFNC. Together with its processing partner network, spanning Australia, Brazil, Malawi and Kenya, the groups marketing business, Green & Gold Macadamias sells roughly 20% of the world’s crop in key territories around the globe. This purchase represents the initial move to making further investment into technology that warrants compliance with increasing microbiological safety standards and global access to highly regulated markets.

The Napasol process ensures 100 per cent of the treated product is pasteurised to a >5log level of reduction of pathogens and is regarded as the market leader in pasteurization equipment for tree nuts. Efficient microbiological reduction is obtained with dry saturated steam, which is natural, effective, and maintains the raw characteristics of the nut. The batch process, which is validated for >5log reduction in pathogens for all tree nuts, meets the risk assessment reduction levels published. The process also preserves the flavour, colour and texture of the raw kernel.

“This outlay will sustain bullish market access for the business, provide the best quality product to our customers, and provide the opportunity to achieve the best possible prices for our farmers. Together with buffering our producers from potential knock-on effects of macadamias that do not meet food safety legislation,” said Jill Whyte, chairperson and owner, GFNC.

The Napasol is planned for installation at the White River factory in the second half of 2020 and should be operational for the remaining 2020 processing cycle. GFNC will have capacity to assist competitor processors with their pasteurisation needs until the decision is taken to invest in their own technology to support market and customer requirements.

Romer Labs APAC Solutions Centre offers all-in-one solution for allergen testing

For almost four decades Romer Labs has been listening to the needs of customers in Australia, New Zealand, and the entire APAC region by delivering innovative diagnostic solutions for the food and beverage industry. Romer  Labs realised that its customers were interested in three core areas – analytical services, technical support and customer training.

Romer Labs has established itself in the region for providing accredited mycotoxin analytical services, which is expanding in the form of multi-mycotoxin analysis 50+. This means a single report can give specific information on more than 50 mycotoxins that can be present in any one sample.

In response to demand from countries like Australia, the company has also integrated full-service food allergen testing facilities into its analytical offerings. It will serve the region with analytical services that cover gluten testing and the broadest range of allergenic analytes on the market including specific nut species.

To complement these new capabilities, the Romer Labs APAC Solutions Centre provides enhanced technical support, such as sample validation, troubleshooting and insight into best practices to Romer Labs’ customers.

The APAC Solutions Centre is bringing a new service to the region in the form of customised training programs, which includes workshops and webinars. It is designed to adapt to when, where and how often customers test. Romer Labs issues training certificates and other documentation that may be necessary for audits and accreditations.

Both Australia and New Zealand have stringent regulations on allergenic content in food. With its new centre, Romer Labs can provide these products to businesses who do not have access to analytical services. It can also help those customers who need training programs to help them stay efficient and compliant.

For analytical testing services, customers can expect to receive their test results in five business days for food allergen testing and six business days for mycotoxin testing. These turnaround times are based on the date of receipt of samples in the company’s laboratory. For an extra cost, customers can receive their results within a day. Customers are emailed their analytical test results in a certificate of analysis. Other communications can be directed to the APAC Solutions Centre or through a local sales representative.

Technical support is another primary service provided by Romer Labs. At times, the Centre collaborates with industry bodies for seminars or webinars to help professionals keep up with the latest trends in food safety and analysis.

Romer Lab clients include government and independent commercial consulting laboratories as well as global food manufacturers who it has helped to verify results for specific matrices that proved problematic.

One food manufacturer producing food coatings and spices used Romer Labs’ allergen test kits with positive results. A technical specialist from the Centre was engaged to examine the matter; the analysis of samples from a similar batch confirmed the results. Following discussions with the customer, the technical specialist suspected that the source of the allergen was the ingredients that were supplied to them. Tests performed on several batches of the goods confirmed this original suspicion. The company was satisfied with the result and has used the test kits on several other occasions for in-house testing.

Customers have also received technical training from Romer Labs on how to improve their capabilities for detecting ergot alkaloids using LC-MS/MS. The Romer Labs APAC Solutions Centre provided them with hands-on training in the method, and staff showed them how to apply Biopure reference materials and clean-up columns for use in their own laboratories. This is one example of customised training programs that help customers keep their food supply chain safe.





Importers of high dose caffeine products on notice

Anyone who knowingly tries to import pure and highly concentrated caffeine products into the country for retail sale could face up to 10 years jail if convicted.

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said it was an offence to import food into Australia that posed a risk to human health.

“Our government has amended imported food legislation to target and prevent entry of pure and highly concentrated caffeine products, intended for retail sale,” Minister McKenzie said.

“This is in support of Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) action to amend the Code to ban the retail sale of these products, which are a threat to human health.

“The ban applies to food intended for retail sale where total caffeine is present at a concentration of five per cent or more in solid or semi-solid foods, like powders, or one per cent or more if the food is in liquid form.

READ MORE: Nestlé uses blockchain to authenticate coffee origin

“This is a significant dose at which the risk of serious health effects start to increase and should not be available for retail sale—let alone be allowed into Australia.

“The safety of Australians is paramount and that’s why I have amended the Imported Food Control Order 2019 to classify pure and highly concentrated caffeine products as risk food.

“It is an offence to import food into Australia that poses a risk to human health. Importers who knowingly import food into Australia that poses a risk to human health can face a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.”

The Government tightened regulations following the death last year of a New South Wales man that was attributed to acute caffeine toxicity associated with the consumption of a caffeine powder product.

Minister McKenzie said the ban would not affect caffeinated products like coffee, energy or cola drinks, which had much lower concentrations, or the import of commercial quantities by manufacturers for use as ingredients in these types of products.

FSANZ will soon be starting a campaign to educate Australian consumers about the risks of pure and highly concentrated caffeine products and the dangers of purchasing these products online.

Romer Labs solutions centre for allergen testing

Romer Labs, a  provider of diagnostic solutions for the agricultural, food and feed industries, is announcing the opening its APAC Solutions Centre in Singapore. The centre extends the company’s capabilities in three important areas: analytical services, technical support and customer training programs.

The APAC Solutions Centre features new facilities for food allergen testing. Romer Labs can now serve the region with analytical services that cover gluten and the broadest range of allergenic analytes on the market. The Centre also brings augmented mycotoxin testing methods with screening services such as Multi-Mycotoxin Analysis 50+, which gives specific information on any of more than 50 mycotoxins in a sample in one report.

To complement these new capabilities, the Centre also provides enhanced technical support: sample validation, troubleshooting and insight into best practices are  available. Romer Labs experts provide advice to help customers remain productive and compliant with local and international regulations.

The APAC Solutions Centre is also introducing a new service to the region: customised training programs. Workshops, webinars and personalised instruction are all designed to adapt to how, where and how often customers test. Romer Labs issues training certificates and other documentation that may be necessary for audits and accreditations.

Yong Wee Liau, managing director, Romer Labs APAC: “For years, we have prided ourselves on being an extension of our customers’ lab. With the Romer Labs APAC Solutions Centre, we aim to go beyond that by being with our customers every step of the way. The new Centre has been designed with their needs in mind to help them meet their food and feed safety goals.”

Plant proteins hot but meat’s not off the menu

People love plants. With their “naturally functional” halo, consumers of all ages want to eat more of them – and in more convenient forms. From cauliflower pizza to beetroot bread, plant-based is a trend that’s growing for the long term.

But people also love meat. Despite vocal attacks on meat’s health and sustainability credentials, which made it look as if the meat category was set for long-term decline, consumption has increased in both the US and in Europe in recent years.

“Consumers’ perception of meat as a tasty and high-quality protein is driving the reinvention of meat and will secure its permanent place on the plate, and as a snack,” says Julian Mellentin, a consultant to the food and beverage industry and author of the report 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2020. This annual trend analysis identifies – for the first time – Meat as a growth opportunity, alongside Plant-based.

“People want plants, but we’re not all turning into vegans,” says Mellentin. “In a world where consumers hold fragmented beliefs, there’s room for both plants and meat.”

“With plant-based is getting all the attention, and meat under attack, creative meat producers are taking steps to reinvent their category, for example with sustainability, provenance and convenience,” he adds. For example, US sales of meat snacks grew 6.7% in 2019 to $4.5 billion (IRI).

READ MORE: Burcon to build $70 million pea and canola protein production plant

And Nielsen data shows that meat brands that communicate about provenance, sustainability and animal welfare are growing fast and earning premium prices. US sales of meat with health or environmental claims are growing rapidly, led by “organic” up 13.1 per cent and “grass-fed” up 12.2 per cent.

It’s a transformation that will be welcomed by consumers, who love to hear that something they enjoy is also good for them – as happened with red wine and chocolate. And they’re particularly receptive right now to positive messages about meat, says Mellentin, thanks to the influence of other key consumer trends identified in the report, including protein, lower-carb and the rebirth of fat.

Consuming fewer carbs – which by definition means eating more fat and/or protein, often in the form of meat – is growing in popularity, fueled by diet patterns such as keto. And low-carb eating is now legitimized by science. The American Diabetes Association recommends low-carb eating to fight diabetes and for weight management, and low-carbing is being adopted by doctors in the UK.

Fear of the ultimate ‘bad carb’ – sugar – is now mainstream. A massive 80 per cent of US consumers say they are limiting or avoiding sugar in their diets, and there are similar levels of concern in Europe and South America.

It’s a reflection of the fragmentation of consumer beliefs that, alongside a growing demand for low-carb products, honest indulgence is also a big growth driver: “In the midst of the focus on health and nutrition, let’s not forget that most people buy bakery products for pure pleasure,” adds Mellentin. “Natural ingredients, Provenance and great taste all matter more than nutrition.”

Many cereals and granolas are discovering that they can gain sales by using inulin in order to offer consumers low-sugar products that also benefit digestive wellness. The Troo Granola brand in the UK, for example, uses inulin syrup in its products because it serves both as a prebiotic and a sweetener, giving a more appealing taste to consumers while keeping sugar content down.

These twin benefits have caused demand for inulin to surge – the number of products launched that feature inulin doubled between 2012 and 2019.

The 10 Key Trends identified in the report are:

  1. Digestive Wellness
  2. Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
  3. Plant-based
  4. Protein
  5. Sugar – Reinventing Sweetness
  6. Rebirth of Fat
  7. Meat Reimagined
  8. Provenance and Authenticity
  9. Energy 2.0
  10. Mood

And there are four “Mega Trends” that are a must-do for all companies in all categories:

  1. Naturally Functional
  2. Fragmentation
  3. Snackification
  4. Sustainability

CSIRO working hard on African swine flu

African swine fever (ASF) is a fatal pig disease. And it’s on Australia’s doorstep with confirmation of outbreaks in Timor-Leste, 680 kilometres from northern Australia.

The disease is found in sub-Saharan Africa and has been detected in countries in Eastern Europe, including Russia and Ukraine. This year we have seen the disease sweep down through Asia and towards Australia.

ASF kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects and there is no vaccine or cure. Some estimate a quarter of the world’s pigs will be dead by the end of this year from ASF.

The consequences cannot be understated as pork and other red meat prices are already seeing an increase in Europe and Asia. There is also talk of a global protein shortage for 2020 as a result of ASF.

READ MORE: Western Meat Packer appoint new Australian sales manager

Australia, which has a $5.3 billion pork industry and 2700 producers, continues to be free from the disease. The CSIRO is working with the Australian government and industry to keep it that way.

ASF on our doorstep
The Department of Agriculture has implemented tight biosecurity measures. This maintains strict controls over imported products, which could be contaminated with the ASF virus. It also has heightened surveillance and increased screening for banned pork products.

Recently, Australia deported a Vietnamese tourist after border officials found 10 kilograms of banned food products in her luggage. This included a large amount of raw pork. She was the first tourist to have her visa cancelled and be expelled from the country over breached biosecurity laws.

In September 2019, researchers at our Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) tested pork products, seized at international airports and at international mail processing centres, for ASF virus. AAHL is Australia’s leading high-containment laboratory for exotic and emerging animal diseases. It has unique facilities and expertise to manage the biosecurity risks of testing samples for the virus.

The results from AAHL’s testing last month showed 48 per cent of seized products were contaminated with ASF virus fragments. This is an increase from 15 per cent in the testing AAHL undertook earlier this year.

Detection of these virus fragments does not necessarily mean they can cause infection. But it does highlight the need for Australia’s strict biosecurity measures. Authorities are now using these results to refine and strengthen Australia’s border measures.

ASF is harmless for humans but spreads rapidly
ASF is harmless for humans but spreads rapidly among domestic pigs and wild boars through direct contact or exposure to contaminated feed and water. For instance, farmers can unwittingly carry the virus on their shoes, clothing, vehicles, and machinery. It can survive in fresh and processed pork products. It is even resistant to some disinfectants.

With no vaccine available, controlling the spread of the virus can be difficult. This is especially so in countries dominated by small-scale farmers who may lack the necessary resources and expertise to protect their herds.

For example, swill feeding—giving pigs kitchen and table waste in which the virus can persist—is a common practice throughout Asia. This is a major factor contributing to the spread of ASF. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to enforce a ban on this practice. Especially across so many small holder farms in resource-poor countries affected by the disease.

But, action is being taken.

Australia’s domestic biosecurity network
many Australian agencies are  working together to manage surveillance and monitoring as the risk of ASF entering Australia is on the rise.

In addition to testing, these agencies continue to strengthen our national biosecurity network. The CSIRO is working with quarantine services, agriculture and human health organisations to build awareness, assessment, resilience, preparedness and response.

Our researchers are working on understanding how ASF infects pigs as well as looking at novel approaches to producing a vaccine. With no vaccine currently available, outbreaks of ASF are difficult and costly to contain and eradicate.

In the policy space, a round table meeting at Parliament House was recently held. Along with other leaders, scientists and governments, the CSIRO shared the work currently being undertaken and the actions needed to keep ASF out of Australia.

Plans are underway for a simulation exercise later this year. This will test Australia’s disease response capabilities to make sure the country is as prepared as it can be.

Helping our international neighbours
AAHL has an important role to play in the Asia-Pacific region. Its international team work with partner agencies and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide expertise, training and laboratory skills to rapidly identify disease.

This support enhances the region’s capacity to manage emergency disease outbreaks. It also assists Australia’s pre-border security through better threat assessment and management of viruses circulating in neighbouring countries.

It also provides regional expertise to the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization (a specialised agency of the United Nations) for emergency preparedness missions to the number of countries at risk of virus.

We can all help
Fortunately, Australia’s pig industry is better equipped to manage the necessary biosecurity measures. And producers are willing to put strict controls in place to keep the disease at bay. Hobby farmers must also be careful to follow the rules.

Nobody wants to see images of dying pigs and farmers struggling to make ends meet on our screens. Everybody can play a role in good biosecurity.

Be aware of the risks and, most importantly, please don’t import illegal meat products or feed pigs with food scraps.

Why Aussies need to eat more vegetables

Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Yet, less than four per cent of Australians consume the recommended five serves of vegetables a day.

What can we do to change this? Inspiring and empowering healthy eating for all Australians is the mission of Nutrition Australia, Australia’s peak nutritional body. One of their annual initiatives is Tryfor5, an awareness campaign run during National Nutrition Week (13 – 19 October) encouraging Australians to increase their vegetable consumption, with this year’s theme “Embrace Your Veg Waste” which supports Australians to consume five serves of vegetables each day by learning to embrace their food waste.

According to Nutrition Australia’s CEO Lucinda Hancock the Tryfor5 campaign reinforces the healthy eating message. “Australians aren’t eating enough vegetables and are throwing away large amounts of edible food waste and so we’re calling on everyone to rise to the challenge and Embrace their veg waste”

READ MORE: Opportunity for frozen vegetables in health-focussed diets

More than one third of rubbish bins in Australian kitchens contain leftovers and wasted food, which equates to nearly $4000 worth of groceries per household per year that can end up in landfill, where food breaks down and can emit harmful greenhouse gases.

Nutrition Australia senior dietitian, Amber Kelaart says there are a few ways we can try for 5 serves of vegetables a day, while helping to save money and the environment, by embracing vegetable ‘waste’:

  • Eat more parts of vegetables such as skins, stalks and leaves.
  • Use up ageing vegetables that would otherwise go in the bin
  • Choose ‘ugly’ and ‘imperfect’ vegetables to prevent them going to landfill. They’re just as nutritious, and often cheaper.

“Eating your ageing vegetables and eating the parts you usually throw out (like skins, stalks and leaves), makes every dollar stretch further, and reduces your household’s impact on climate change. It’s win-win.”

Kelaart says to start by using more parts of the vegetables you already have on hand. “Vegetable skins contain fibre, vitamins and minerals. Rinsing vegetables like carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, instead of peeling them, means you keep more of those important nutrients in your body and out of the bin.”

“And don’t throw out things like broccoli stems or the leaves of leeks. You can chop the broccoli stems and use it in a stir-fry or soup. And chips, tart and stock made from the leaves of leek will add a unique new ingredient to your repertoire.”

If your vegetables are getting a little wrinkly, having some go to recipes up your sleeve will help you use up your ageing vegetables.

“Give your ageing vegetables a second life by adding them to vegetable soups, egg frittatas or savoury muffins. Just add a few handfuls of chopped left-over vegetables to create delicious and colourful new meals or snacks. Plus they freeze well and can be added to the kids’ lunchbox or taken to work.”

Nutrition Australia also recommends learning how to store different types of vegetables, so they stay fresh for as long as possible.

“If you have bought a lot of something but only need a little, think about preparing the extra vegetables in a way that you can use in future. For example, chop up extra celery and carrots for snacks. And freeze herbs while they’re fresh so you can trim some off each time you need more,” Amber suggests.

Bayer is the founding sponsor of the Tryfor5 Program and is committed to actively supporting the health and wellbeing of all Australians through programs that improve health literacy.

“Working in partnership with Nutrition Australia we are dedicated to improving health outcomes through increased awareness of nutritional and everyday health needs.  The Tryfor5 campaign provides practical information and tips on nutritional requirements to support positive self-care practices.” Jeorg Ellmanns, CEO Bayer Australia and New Zealand.

Action to protect native fish ahead of hot, dry summer

The Federal Government is working with the states to protect the Murray–Darling Basin’s native fish ahead of an expected hot and dry summer.

Minister for Drought David Littleproud released the Native Fish Emergency Response Plan. Make no mistake, we are likely to see fish deaths this summer,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We’re facing another hot summer with very little water flowing through our rivers. This plan will give the MDBA and the states vital tools to help protect fish populations. The Federal Government has money put aside for fish-death prevention measures and environmental water holders will replenish areas on red alert, where they can.

“Fish deaths are common during summer but what we saw last year were a major wake-up call about the impact of the drought on our rivers. After the Vertessy Review we have put an emergency plan in place.

“The plan will see more activity in high risk areas, with aerators, fish relocated and algae blooms watched closely.

READ MORE: SIA happy with state of fisheries

“The last Northern Basin environmental watering program refreshed waterholes and fish refuges although there is little environmental water left.

“NSW emergency measures have seen fish relocated so they survive this summer and re-populate the rivers when conditions improve.

“The Commonwealth is also bringing government officials and experts together this month to coordinate plans and identify areas at high risk of fish deaths.

“Communities too have their part to play and we also ask the community to report river conditions and fish deaths to help with fish relocations and recovery.

“We want native river fish such as the Murray cod, silver perch and golden perch to have the best chance of surviving this summer.

“We want healthy and thriving fish populations in our rivers during drought and in the good times.”

The Emergency Response Plan is available at


Under the Native Fish Emergency Response Plan, the Commonwealth Government will:

  • Provide emergency funds from the Emergency Contingency Fund to help states manage urgent and extreme fish death events, with $300,000 set aside.
  • Provide available Commonwealth environmental water to mitigate fish deaths.
  • Support the coordination of emergency response activities and sharing of resources.
  • Maintain a database of significant fish deaths events.
  • Contribute to water quality monitoring programs to identify areas at risk.

In return, the states will:

  • Identify and monitor high risk sites for fish deaths.
  • Identify priority refuge areas for native fish.
  • Prepare on-ground emergency response plans for priority species and areas.

v2food and CSIRO launch plant-based meat alternative

Australia’s newest plant-based meat startup, v2food, has been launched via an innovative partnership between CSIRO, Main Sequence Ventures and Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods Australia.

v2food is a sustainable, plant-based alternative to meat. It looks like meat, cooks like meat and tastes like meat. It was formed by CSIRO’s Innovation Fund, managed by Main Sequence Ventures, a part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), in 2018.

Competitive Foods Australia, the company behind Hungry Jack’s, also contributed seed funding to help launch the startup. With the backing of both government and industry, v2food had all the right ingredients for success from day one. The company is led by former Masterfoods and PepsiCo research director, Nick Hazell.

The company’s rapid growth, from foundation to national launch in eight months, is a result of the team’s access to CSIRO’s expansive network of expertise.

CSIRO provided research and development resources to v2food on a research-for-equity arrangement. While a one-man-team at the beginning, Hazell had access to hundreds of the best scientific minds to help perfect the product.

READ MORE: Burcon to build $70 million pea and canola protein production plant

“Making meat alternatives from plants is not a new idea but at v2food we’ve taken it a step further,” said Hazell. “We are on a journey to make plant-based food both taste better and be more sustainable. The protein substitutes available to date simply don’t taste as good as meat and they are not affordable.

“We’ve drawn upon the best food, nutrition and sustainability science from CSIRO to develop a sustainable and nutritious product, with an unmatched texture and flavour.

The goal is for our product to be a delicious alternative to meat, accessible to every Australian,” said Hazell.

Recognising that there is a need for a ‘version 2’ of the food system, v2food’s range of plant-based meat products taste great and is suited for all consumers.

Made from legumes, the company’s ‘mince’ looks and tastes like quality meat and contains added fibre and nutrients.

“We seem to have the right resources for success,” chairman and CEO of Competitive Foods Australia Jack Cowin said. “With CSIRO’s outstanding research and technology capabilities, the passion of the v2food team led by Nick Hazell and Competitive Foods Australia’s ability to help build and commercialise businesses, we believe that we have the ingredients for a successful venture.

“We’ve seen a huge opportunity for plant-based proteins and the category is set to explode. I’ve eaten beef all my life but I’ve tasted the v2food and it tastes as good as beef.

“Therefore, we can’t wait to take v2food to consumers with some fantastic new products,” he said.

v2food has been collaborating with the grain and meat industries to add plant-based meat to the Australian agricultural story. CSIRO projects this new industry to be worth more than $6 billion by 2030 in Australia. This provides a big opportunity for existing meat and grain producers. It is estimated that by 2050 the world’s population will need twice the amount of food we consume today.

Australia doesn’t currently have the capability to process legumes for plant-based meat alternatives. v2food, with the help of CSIRO, is working on developing this capability to create an all Australian value chain.

v2food will begin to appear in restaurants and cafes throughout the remainder of the year and aims to have a leading presence in-store and in cafes around Australia by early 2020.