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Deadly superbug hits Australia

17 October 2012

Amy Corderoy
Sydney Morning Herald

A deadly superbug that has ravaged Europe and North America has arrived in Australia, but experts fear it is being missed because of inadequate testing.

Up to 40 per cent of serious cases of Clostridium difficile, or C diff, are possibly being missed in New South Wales, researchers have found. The bug often causes severe gut problems.

I’m really scared about this. I think we are heading for a very dark time, I’m afraid 

Specialised labs are finding highly toxic superbug strains of the bacteria more often but the extent of the problem is unknown because the strains are not the subject of routine testing.

In May, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Rosemary Lester revealed that 14 Victorians had died from C diff after picking it up in hospitals and aged-care facilities over a 15-month period in 2010 and 2011.

Thomas Riley, a professor of Microbiology at The University of Western Australia and an expert in C Diff, said his lab had seen a dramatic increase in a superbug strain known as 244 towards the end of last year.

He believed there was a “massive under-reporting” of the bug, and health departments around the country had been too slow to respond.

“I’m really scared about this. I think we are heading for a very dark time, I’m afraid,” he said.

In the past 12 to 18 months, the 244 strain had gone from being non-existent in Australia to being the third most common strain, accounting for five per cent of tested cases.

He said routine testing of C diff strains was urgently needed.

Part of the problem was that while infectious bacteria was commonly spread among patients in hospital, C diff seemed to be spreading throughout the community and it was not known why.

“There is a lot of nasty C diff in the community, it is severe disease,” he said.

He suspected imported food could be responsible for spreading the bug.

Superbug strains of C diff are more widespread in North America and Europe.

Between six and 30 per cent of patients die from the disease and deadly cases are becoming more common, according to data published by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.


Read more:

USA Salmonella outbreak traced to mangoes

1 October 2012

Over 120 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Braenderup have been reported from 15 states in the USA.

Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that mangoes are a likely source of this outbreak.

Consumers who purchased Daniella brand mangoes are advised not to eat them and discard any remaining Daniella mangoes. Daniella brand mangoes can be identified by product stickers. For mangoes without stickers, consumers should ask their retailer for brand information.

More information from the CDC website tracking the outbreak is avaialable here ; 

All GM foods to be declared on labels if Californian bill passes

25 September 2012

Jessica Burke

Genetically modified (GM) food is a controversial issue that is set to become an electoral one in the US, with one state set to vote on the practise.

In November, California will be the first state to vote on whether declaration labels will be mandatory on all genetically modified food.

Up to 18 states in the US have attempted to pass similar laws in the same way, but so far all have failed to make it to the statewide ballot.

But in California, Proposition 37 as it is known, has received over a million citizen signatures, indicating it will be successful and foods that have been genetically modified with have to include that information on labelling.

Read more here from Food Magazine ; 

Reduce coolroom contamination risks with Bluescope

19 August 2012

Reduce the risk of harmful cool room cross-contamination

with COLORBOND® Permagard® steel

As the risk of bacteria in cool rooms and hygiene-sensitive environments continues to grow premium cool room panel products such as COLORBOND® Permagard® steel are helping to meet the challenge.

For over six years, COLORBOND® Permagard® steel has provided the cool room industry with the proven strength of COLORBOND® steel combined with the unique Microban® antibacterial technology to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, such as escherichia coli (known as e.coli) which leads to food borne illnesses as a result of cross-contamination.

Microban® technology is proven to inhibit the growth of surface bacteria. The antibacterial protection technology is durably incorporated into COLORBOND® Permagard® steel during the manufacturing process and is an intrinsic part of the product. When bacteria comes into contact with the product surface, the Microban® technology reacts with the cell wall of the bacteria and disrupts key cell functions so that it cannot grow, function or reproduce. BlueScope Steel has the exclusive license for the Microban® technology in Australia and New Zealand for pre-painted steel composite panels.

Eating foods spoiled with bacteria, such as escherichia coli which has been identified by food science organisation, HACCP Australia, as a rapidly growing occurrence in Australian cool rooms, can cause a range of illnesses from diarrhoea and vomiting, to kidney failure and, in extreme cases, can be fatal.

As a premium product, COLORBOND® Permagard® steel has undergone numerous assessments and is either approved by or in compliance with the regulations of the European Union Scientific Committee for Food, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Food and Drug Administration as well as the Australian and New Zealand Food Authority. COLORBOND® Permagard® steel is certified by HACCP Australia as a ‘FoodSafe’ product for ceiling and wall linings of food storage and processing facilities.

Martin Stone, director of HACCP Australia, explains how cool room panels, such as COLORBOND® Permagard® steel with Microban® antibacterial technology, can help reduce the prevalence of bacteria and contamination in cool rooms and hygiene-sensitive food environments:

“Good hygiene and prevention of cross-contamination is important. Cross-contamination from bacteria can lead to food poisoning and over 5 million people are reported to be effected by food poisoning every year in Australia. As HACCP technologists are well aware, food contamination is often the result of contact with unclean and unhygienic surfaces.”

“COLORBOND® Permagard® steel works by minimising the risk of contamination by reducing the opportunity for bacteria to transfer to food so there are real benefits from using this product.”

To further reduce the risk of cross-contamination, COLORBOND® Permagard® steel works continuously and will not wash off. This ensures its effectiveness between cleanings and in areas that are difficult to clean. Tests have shown that even after simulated cleaning, using typical cool room detergents over a period of 10 years, COLORBOND® Permagard® steel remained highly effective in its antibacterial properties and was resistant to corrosion.

The product can be used in a range of applications such as cool rooms and facilities that store and process food items where food hygiene and safety is a primary concern including supermarket cold storage areas, food processing plants, abattoirs and wineries.

COLORBOND® Permagard® steel is backed by a BlueScope Steel warranty*. It is available in the colour Permagard® White and in a range of panel thicknesses from 50mm to 200mm.

For further information on COLORBOND® Permagard® steel, call Steel Select on 1800 022 999 or visit

* Warranty terms and conditions apply. Warranties are not available for all products and applications. The duration, terms and conditions of available warranties vary according to product use and application. To determine the eligibility of your project, visit or call 1800 022 999.


For all media enquiries, interviews or images please contact James Cooley at Stellar* Concepts Australia on 02 9281 8000 or