Salmonella in raw fish has been identified by Food Standards Australia New Zealand as an emerging food safety risk.

For 2019, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) also noted two ongoing issues and kept a watch on eight other food safety issues, according to an annual report on emerging and ongoing issues.

Issues are identified by FSANZ officers from scientific literature, traditional and social media, international organizations and agencies, and public and industry consultations. The Senior Science and International Group provides advice to the agency on best approaches for investigation and management of identified areas.

Food safety risks can emerge when new hazards are identified or if information comes to light about an existing hazard, such as increased exposure. FSANZ’s report said identifying and monitoring emerging issues enables it to better forecast and predict possible food safety risks, and develop measures to manage them, if required.

Salmonella in raw fish
An investigation of an outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis linked to eggs in 2019 was coordinated by FSANZ and is not recorded as an emerging issue.

Salmonella is considered a potential food safety hazard in farmed prawns or shrimps but not farmed finfish; it has not been identified as a risk for raw fish within the Food Standards Code and is not tested for in most industry HACCP programs.

However, contaminated whole fish and processed portions could potentially cross-contaminate equipment and premises, even if the end product is cooked and fish fillets such as tuna, may be eaten raw in sushi, sashimi or ceviche.

Three Salmonella serotypes from one farmed species have been found to cross-contaminate equipment and two other fish species. FSANZ said it was not aware of any directly related human health issues but viewed it as a potential emerging issue, particularly with the increase in consumption of raw fish such as sushi, sashimi, ceviche and poke.

The agency said the subject has been archived and it will maintain a “watching brief” for future developments. Topics are archived from the emerging and ongoing issues system when management is within another process such as a standards development or when no further action is required following an investigation.

Other topics on the radar
The eight ongoing issues are arsenic in rice, 3-monochloro-propandiol (3-MCPD) and glycidyl esters, caffeine, Hepatitis A virus in ready-to-eat berries, intense sweeteners, microplastics in the food supply, per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances and pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Antimicrobial resistance and glutamates in food were archived or managed through other processes.

FSANZ has also begun work on longer term emerging issues with stakeholder committees in horizon scanning across two, five and 10 years.

Key emerging issues identified by the Consumer and Public Health Dialogue were grouped into six themes. These are sustainability and climate change; information for consumers; innovation and changes in the food supply; governance and process; obesity and overweight; and food hazards.

The Retailers and Manufacturers Liaison Committee listed five themes. These are food fraud; packaging; plant-based and synthetic meats; climate change; and agility.

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