Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Australian Government's tax woes

Hopefully the Australian Federal Government won't succeed in bullying State Premiers to agree to increase and extend the GST.It would grossly unfair for it to charged o0n fresh food and medical costs. The solution to the Government's financial problems is fairly simple – Slash unnecesary spending. Withdraw all our troops from the Middle East (that will also be a great step in countering the radicalisation of Muslim youths. Cut our so-called Defence budget and Department by 50% and slash the travel and other entitlements for politicians and senior bureaccrats aslso by 50%. That would result in annual savings of around one billion dollars and help to get the Budget back on track.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Ministers finally to decide on 'free range' standard

We understand that all State Ministers for Consumer Affairs/Fair Trading will meet this Friday (June12) to decide on a standard or legal definition for free range egg production. If they reach agreement, the standard will apply nationally. It is not known what drafts have been prepared for the Ministers to consider, but it is hoped that any enforceable standard will be based on the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry)which sets limits on stocking densities and prohibits beak trimming as a normal procedure. It will be useful if the standard reflects the voluntary standard in South Australia, and the Federal Court ruling on free range egg production.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Eggs shouldn't need to be washed


We are often asked if our eggs are washed. The answer is NO. There is no need for eggs to be washed on a properly managed farm.If nest boxes and sheds are clean, and there is no build-up of mud and manure around sheds, the eggs will be clean. But the problem is massive in barns housing many thousands of birds.Many of the eggs will be laid on floor, in manure perhaps a foot deep. More than 95% of eggs sold in Victoria are washed – but the process which is claimed to reduce bacterial entry into the eggs can actually increase the risk of contamination.

The washing process is often poorly supervised, but there are approved chemicals and quantities which are supposed to be used.

Chlorine based detergent is recommended in all egg washers.
In the right concentrations it can be effective in removing debris and microorganisms from the shell of the egg,
Quaternary ammonia based products are used for
final sanitation and a defoamer is added to control excessive foam in the washer

The active ingredients in the sanitiser which is residual on the egg shell surface are:
1-OCTANAMINIUM, N,N-DIMETHYL-N-OCTYL-, CHLORIDE

ALKYL(C12-16)DIMETHYLBENZYLAMMONIUM CHLORIDE

DIDECYLDIMETHYLAMMONIUM CHLORIDE


This pesticide is used as a:

  • DISINFECTANT
  • FUNGICIDE
  • FUNGICIDE/FUNGISTAT
  • SANITIZER
  • VIRUCIDE and is commonly found on the shells of most eggs – even from organic farms.
  •  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sustainability and the economy


In many opinions, Western society has been in decline for decades (if not centuries) but we do seem to be heading towards the abyss at an ever increasing speed.

Australia is probably a reasonable reflection of what is happening elsewhere (at least if the drivel in newspapers and on television is any guide.

There is little real political choice when it comes to elections as all party hacks scramble for the 'middle ground' In Australia there is virtually nothing to choose on economic policies between the Liberal/National coalition government and the Labor opposition. Both also have almost identical policies on defence (which would better be described as aggression). They both endorse any action required by the US.

Despite claimed financial constraints, unlimited funds are always found for military adventures. Politicians are happy to send young men to fight, even if the wars are unwinnable – such as afghanistan and the current Middle East debacle.

The whole IS fiasco is a result of the actions of the US, Britain and Australia. Following the intervention in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq and the destabilisation of Libya and Syria the world has been embroiled in terrorist activities.

The whole system of western governments is dominated by economics. All activities are reduced to a dollar value.

The chase for ever-increasing GDP and all other financial indicators locks us in to a perpetual spiral of booms and busts). There may be a few years of growth between the cycles such as between the 1930's depression and the recent so-called Global Financial Crisis – brought about by corporate greed and political stupidity.

Continual economic growth is not possible, but no politician is brave enough to admit it.

Steady State Economics presents a different view of how we could run the world, instead of chasing the illusion of perpetual growth. It offers the concept of an economy that is completely sustainable. A community with a size and structure that doesn't grow, but remains stable to match the limits of the natural environment and its resources.



Steady State Economics presents a different view of how we could run the world, instead of chasing the illusion of perpetual growth. It offers the concept of an economy that is completely sustainable. A community with a size and structure that doesn't grow, but remains stable to match the limits of the natural environment and its resources.

Greed and self-interest led to the last global financial meltdown. It was an inevitable result of Government policies, big business demands, and mass gullibility. It will happen again (and again) unless Governments, industrialists, commercial interests and individuals choose a different path from the God 'growth'. The same greed resulted in a pathetic and useless outcome from the climate change talks in Copenhagen. It has also brought us the fiscal nonsense of 'quantitative Easing', derivatives trading and the crooked financial advisers favourite con of 'margin lending'.

Traditionally, economics taught in our universities has been based on an assumption that continuous growth is the only way to generate a better life for everyone on the planet. It argues that growth will raise living standards, lift people out of poverty whilst the cycle of supply and demand will solve environmental problems and the depletion of world resources. The classic view is that exponential growth is good and fast growth is even better.

Advocates of steady-state economics dispute this view. One of the first was John Stuart Mill in the 19th century and he has been followed by people like Herman Daly who maintains that the economy is a subset of our ecosystem. The global ecosystem is finite, a closed system which cannot grow. Matter neither enters nor leaves it. The ecosystem also provides the economy’s resources and a sink for its wastes. Continuous growth forces a collapse in the ecosystem which then becomes unable to support the economy and the community.

Some who question the current economic system, note that the ecology of the planet is increasingly under pressure, with natural resources such as forests, fish stocks, minerals and soil being depleted at alarming rates. Land for food production is increasingly scarce and pollution levels are making water and air unusable or unsafe. 
 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Salmonella workshop for egg producers

A workshop on food safety on egg farms - particularly potential problem with food-borne illnessers like salmonella will be held in Melbourne on June 2. This is very timely given the deaths of two people and the hospitalisation of hundreds in Europe. .It also follows a salmonella incident in Victoria in February when hundreds were made ill after eating eggs at two restaurants. In Queensland there were 2000 cases in March this year.
The only problem with this workshop is that the people who most need to be there won't bother.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

There is no need for eggs to be washed - even though it is common practice


It's important for all egg farmers – large and small - to produce eggs that present the lowest health risks for consumers. Production of visibly clean eggs, free from dirt and faecal contamination, is the primary concern in the supply of table eggs and it's not hard as long as the farm has good flock management practices.For the shelf life of an egg and from a food safety perspective, it is important to lower the level of bacterial contamination on eggs. If there is an increase in the number of bacteria present on the egg shell surface, the chances rise of eggshell penetration and contamination of the egg internally. Washing and sanitising are common practices on some farms but studies on the quality of stored eggs has frequently shown that washing increases the probability of spoilage.The cleaning of eggs by washing has been widely condemned.

The egg emerges from the cloaca moist and at a temperature of 41°C and organic matter adheres to the moist shell and as it cools bacteria can be drawn into the pores of the shell (Sexton, 2014). The outermost layer of the shell is the cuticle. This is a non-calcified proteinacious layer added to the shell just before it leaves the uterus. The cuticle is responsible for the smooth, glossy appearance of a freshly laid egg and the cuticle protects the egg from invasion with microorganisms. On the surface of the cuticle are pores that extend through the calcified layer to the egg membrane. These pores are responsible for the exchange of gases (oxygen into the egg and CO2 out) and loss of water vapour from the egg interior. A typical hen’s egg contains 6,500 pores, with the greatest concentration of pores at the blunt end of the shell over the air cell. The shell is not considered to be a significant obstacle to bacterial penetration although the underlying shell membranes are a more effective barrier . It is a vulnerable package and may crack. Egg shell integrity declines with increasing bird age.


At oviposition, 90% of eggs are germ free. The eggshell can be contaminated by any surface with which the egg comes in contact. Faeces, water, caging material, nesting material, insects, hands, broken eggs, dust on the egg belt, blood and soil are the most common sources of eggshell contamination Eggs become contaminated internally by two primary means, transovarian or trans-shell contamination

  • Freshly laid eggs may be contaminated through the oviduct and the presence of certain bacterial species can indicative of an infected bird. This is called vertical transmission, i.e., transovarian transmission of Salmonella spp., especially S. Enteritidis, which is dependent upon the presence of infected ovaries and the migration of bacteria across the vitelline membrane into the substance of the yolk during egg formation. Vertical transmission occurs as a result of Salmonella infection of the reproductive organs i.e. ovaries or oviduct and the egg yolk membrane or albumen surrounding is directly contaminated. Salmonella enteritidis is not endemic in Australian laying flocks.
  • Horizontal transmission, which can occur both before and after shell formation. Infection of the inner egg can occur from the moment of ovulation onwards until consumption. Trans-shell contamination involves the initial contamination of the egg surface, followed by the subsequent penetration by the microorganisms into the albumen or in some cases directly into the yolk. Trans-shell movement of bacteria can occur under the appropriate conditions of temperature, humidity etc in spite of the number of defence mechanisms to limit the effects of such an event

Washing of eggs is rarely applied within the European Union, except by a few packers in Sweden and one in the Netherlands however it is common in the USA, Japan and here inAustralia. The practice of washing of eggs in Europe has been developed to clean dirty eggs (grade B) however it seems that in some countries where washing is practised it is seen as a means of improving microbial quality and of reducing the risks of infection of the internal egg.

. In Australia the vast majority of eggs are washed prior to packing to remove dirt and faecal material and in an effort to reduce the microbial contamination of the egg shell. However, if the washing process is not carefully controlled, it c an actually increaxse the level of contamination.

The EU is concerned about egg washing and the possibility of deterioration of the cuticle, which protects the egg against dehydration and offers a natural barrier to common microorganisms, and occasional pathogenic microorganisms, present in the flora that colonise the surface of the egg. There is also concern in the EU and in Australia that washing is used to cover up poor husbandry and hygiene standards on farms and in packing centres.



Friday, May 08, 2015

Egg labelling confusion

The are strong moves to tighten up the rules on egg labelling in Australia - but there is still a long way to go before we get to a degree of honesty which helps to rebuild consumer confidence. We are not alone, very similar issues affect the industry overseas - particularly in the US and Europe.  Here's a link to some info which demonstrates the problem.http://www.fix.com/blog/egg-health-production-and-labeling/  http://www.fix.com/blog/egg-health-production-and-labeling/
Itr is hoped that here, Ministers for Fair Trading and consumer Affairs will approve a national 'free range' standard when they meet next month.