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Food Safety

Food poisoning

Environmental Health OfficerIf you believe that you are suffering from food poisoning it is important that you contact both your doctor and Council's Community Health Services on 1300 88 22 33 as soon as possible. To assist us with our investigation, you may be asked to provide a 4 day food history, ie. a list of all the foods and drinks that you consumed before your symptoms started. Providing us with any left over food samples you suspect may have been the cause of your illness may help our investigation providing it has been stored correctly.

It can take up to 72 hours from when you ate or drank contaminated food or drink before you experience the first symptoms.

Sometimes food poisoning will be a single incident, or it can be part of an outbreak. Victorian laboratories and doctors are responsible for reporting identified incidents of food poisoning. Council Environmental Health Officers will investigate any suspected food poisoning by interviewing patients and inspecting premises that may be implicated. Investigations may also involve taking food and faecal samples. In the case of an outbreak Environmental Health Officers may interview close contacts.

Further information on gastroenteritis may be found on the Better Health Channel website or the Department of Health's Food Poisoning and How to Prevent it factsheet.

Food Contamination

What causes food contamination? Mouse cooked into loaf of bread

Food contamination occurs when something is found in food that shouldn’t be there. Contaminated food can be unsafe for consumption. There are three ways that food can be contaminated.
Microorganisms - These include bacteria, fungi, yeasts, mould and viruses.
Chemical Hazards - These include cleaning chemicals or foods with naturally occurring toxins like green potatoes.
Physcial Hazards - These include dangerous physical objects found in food, such as plastic, glass, elastic bands, wood chips or band-aids.

What should I do if my food is contaminated?

There are a few options for consumers who find foreign objects in food or who have purchsed contaminated food products. These include returning the product to the place of purchase, contacting the manufacturer or their local Council. We encourage you to contact us so that the matter can be investigated. This may involve a visit to the place of purchase or the manufacturer of the product to inspect their food handling processes.

While your complaint may be an isolated incident, which can be dealt with quickly, it could be part of a much bigger issue. Reporting all cases of food contamination to the relevant local Council will allow a proper investigation to occur and any appropriate action to take place.

If you find a foreign object in a food product DO NOT remove it. Keep the product intact and store according to the product instructions such as in the fridge or seal it in a plastic container. If you have a product that is contaminated you should also try to keep it in tact and store appropriately then contact Council's Community Health Services on 1300 88 22 33 or email us at Community Health Services.

If the product was purchased from a premises outside of the Maroondah area, you will need to contact the Council responsible for that area or we can refer the complaint to that Council on your behalf.  To find which Council may be responsible and their contact details, go to the Department of Planning and Community Development website.

You should also be aware that although Council investigates complaints in relation to food contamination, we do not have any involvement in claims for compensation or replacement of food products. This may be settled privately with the place of purchase or the food manufacturer.

Food recalls

Sometimes, to protect public health and safety, foods must be removed from sale because they pose a safety hazard to consumers. All food businesses must have a recall procedure so that in the event of unsafe food, the product can be traced and removed from sale. The FSANZ Food Industry Recall Protocol is a useful guide and provides a template for the food recall procedures. A video produced by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for the food industry about recalling food in Australia is also available.

In the event of a recall Environmental Health Officers check that local food premises are aware of the food recall and will answer any questions. Environmental Health Officers may also assist with the necessary destruction of any recalled product.

For further information contact Council's Community Health Services on 1300 88 22 33 or conatact the Department of Health, Food Safety and Regulatory Activities on 1300 364 352.


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