Category Archives: Food products

Presence of Trace Metals in Fish

Australians are among the heaviest consumers of meat in the world. I was a nonchalant contributor to this statistic when cholesterol levels from a recent medical check-up prompted me to consider healthier eating habits. Fish was the obvious alternative to meat protein, so I turned to online forums to find out where people were getting their seafood and what kind. This is how I was introduced to the controversial topic of whether fish was the ultimate answer.

I discovered concepts such as biomagnification and bioaccumulation through which heavy metals from contaminated water is transferred through food chains and build up to biologically harmful concentrations. A study of concentrations of trace metals in canned fish in USA showed unsafe mercury levels in some samples of Tuna. The same study advises moderate consumption of fish as it may cause health risks. Another study looked at concentration of mercury in human hair related to fish consumption and found that the concentration increases substantially with frequency of eating fish.

A quick look at the canned fish section in the supermarket revealed that most of the product is imported, making it a hard task to determine quality of the fish. Ditto for the frozen fish fillets. It seems, the safest bet would be fresh fish. But studies of trace metal concentrations in fish flesh near industrial and metropolitan regions in South Australia have revealed quantities of lead that is higher than the maximum permissible levels for safe consumption. Even if you go for local produce, do you know where the fresh fish comes from or how ‘fresh’ it really is?!

I am convinced the only way to know you get good fish is to catch them yourself from areas with unpolluted water. If you can’t be bothered, you can always trust the food quality standards in Australia and follow the cardinal rule – ‘Everything in moderation’ – it applies to fish too!

Written by Awin Antony

Pyrethrum insect gun in a domestic setting

Target Audience

Yates pyrethrum insect gun is a readily available insecticide commonly used in a domestic setting, particularly in home vegetable gardens. Risk communication via social media is suitable for the target audience as it has the potential to reach a huge number of individuals using the spray when they search the Internet for gardening advice.

Blog Post

Garden Safely

As Winter ends and Spring planting begins, it’s time to start thinking about protecting the garden from the hungry insects that become more common in the warmer months. Yates Pyrethrum Insect Gun is a commonly used insecticide in domestic vegetable gardens. The Yates Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) (2014) states that pyrethrum is classified as non-hazardous by Safe Work Australia, however there are safety risks that need to be addressed with its use, particularly as pyrethrum is allowed to be used in organic agriculture and therefore many individuals are likely to regard it as safe (Saba and Messina, 2003). Now is a good time to review the risks associated with using this product in a domestic setting.

It is important that users of this product should check the MSDS prior to use, as the listed precautions on the Yates website only relate to the growth and harvest of plants rather than human health and safety precautions. According to the MSDS (2014) users should wear protective equipment including overalls, safety glasses, safety shoes and gloves to avoid inhalation of the product as well as to prevent skin and eye irritation.  Other preventative measures include working upwind and/or only using the product on a still day. Hands should be washed after use.

The Pyrethrum Insect Gun should be stored in a cool environment out of reach of children and animals. The product should not be used within 24 hours of harvest and it is therefore important to consider when the product can most safely be used, particularly if children and pets are in the habit of grazing on garden plants.

In comparison to many insecticides, pyrethrum can be considered relatively safe and by using personal protective equipment, considering timing of use and practicing safe storage, the risks associated with this product can be easily mitigated.

Nicola Collins



Saba, A., & Messina, F. (2003). Attitudes towards organic foods and risk/benefit perception associated with pesticides. Food Quality and Preference. 14, 637-645. Retrieved from

Yates. (2014). Material Safety Data Sheet:Yates Pyrethrum Insect Pest Gun. Retreived from


Insecticide in a domestic setting

Insecticide in a domestic setting (with a cute dog)


Canned food products

Target Audience: Communicating awareness to senior management within the food industry the benefits of implementing a HACCP System to monitor and control potential chemical and physical hazards that may arise during the food production process, and therefore impact upon food safety.

HACCP: Are your food safety controls in place?

How do you control potential physical or chemical hazards that may find its way into food ingredients?

During the production of food, ingredients are exposed to various physical and/or chemical hazards. These may be in the form of foreign matter such as metal or plastic fragments, or substances that have been unintentionally added or transferred from other processes. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or ‘HACCP’ is an administrative control that is implemented to control hazards throughout the production process by identifying potential hazards, identifying critical control points (CCP) in the production process that pose the great risk of hazards occurring, and applying the appropriate controls.

An example may be the contamination of food due to cleaning chemicals. This may be due to the presence of chemical residue near food ingredients or products left behind during the cleaning process. In relation to HACCP, the CCP identified may be when equipment cleaning is conducted which then triggers the development of a control to formalise cleaning and monitoring procedures ensuring that any chemicals used are properly inspected and cleaned up. Most commonly, hazards can be controlled through such practices as proper cleaning, hand washing, allergen management and temperature control; however, without a formal system or procedure in place, there is a risk of exposure

Implementing HACCP is a good systematic process in developing risk controls to potential food safety hazards, but not only that, it encourages a ‘food safety culture’ through leadership, encouraging training, raising risk awareness, regular communication with staff, good hygiene practices and appropriate working and operational environments. Researchers have found that employing a food safety culture is a strong determinant of food safety performance.

So… do you have HACCP? What systems do you have to ensure your food is safe?

Tran Nguyen Jessey Dong


Batt, C. A (2016). Chemical and physical hazards in food. Reference Module in Food Science. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-100596-5.03437-5.

SAI Global Limited. (2016). HACCP Certification. Retrieved from

Nyarugwe, S. P., Linnemann, A., Hofstede, G. J., Fogliano, V., & Luning, P. A. (2016). Determinants for conducting food safety culture research. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 56, 77-87. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2016.07.015.

Food safety controls and canned food products

Food safety controls and canned food products