The survey’s objectives were to:
- assess the microbiological quality of high risk bakery products in NSW
- observe food handling practices in bakeries.
Surveys and investigations of foodborne illness outbreaks have linked some higher risk bakery products to people getting sick.
Products with high levels of moisture are most likely to present food safety concerns as they support the growth of a wide range of bacteria, yeasts and moulds. Foods which also have low acid components such as those common in bakery products provide an environment highly conducive to the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Factors inherent to bakeries and their practices increase the potential for such products to be hazardous. Factors include:
- use of raw foods which might contain pathogens
- use of perishable ingredients
- frequent handling of food
- potential for cross contamination through the re-use of equipment such as piping bags
- an industry that includes many small, independent operators where knowledge of hygienic practices may not always be adequate.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has published guidelines for microbiological examination of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods.
From April to November 2007, NSW Food Authority Officers and local council Environment Health Officers (EHOs) visited 125 randomly selected bakeries across NSW. They collected food samples and completed a food handling questionnaire.
Samples were analysed for a variety of microorganisms including Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus, coagulase positive staphylococci and Salmonella.
The food handling questionnaire identified some food hygiene and handling practices that might lead to food safety problems including:
- inadequate temperature control
- improper use of equipment and the use of raw egg mayonnaise, a known risk factor associated with human illness.
Only 1 sample tested was considered to be potentially hazardous due to the level of Bacillus cereus detected. For this sample and for all unacceptable results, follow-up action was undertaken appropriate with the level of risk posed.
Full results are available in the report below.
Table of contents
Appendix 1 Foodborne outbreaks in Australia involving bakery and raw egg products
Appendix 2 Summary of related surveys
Appendix 3 Guidelines for sampling officer
Appendix 4 Guidelines for the microbiological examination of RTE foods
Appendix 5 Raw microbiological results
Appendix 6 Summary of microbiological results for food types