In a recent press release, SA Water reports that it is "achieving positive outcomes for its customers, with some room to improve, according to an independent annual report [released on 8 March 2018] on Australia’s water utilities."

The press release continues: 

"The Bureau of Meteorology’s National Performance Report (NPR) 2016-17: urban water utilities analyses the performance of 85 organisations across the country, including SA Water, which has a customer base of more than 1.6 million people.

The report shows SA Water performed favourably amongst its peers - the larger utilities with 100,000 or more customers - in areas such as customer service, pricing and rate of water main breaks and leaks: [see the chart below]

SA Water’s Chief Executive Roch Cheroux said the report reinforces the organisation’s focus on improving customer experience.

"We achieved some great results last year, in areas we know are important to our customers, with a material reduction in typical water bills, and less inconvenience from water main breaks," Roch said.

"Our team understands there’s still more to be done."

The report also highlights areas for continuous improvement such as unplanned interruptions, sewer breaks and chokes, and system leakage.

"To limit the most common cause of sewer main faults – tree root intrusion – we’re working more collaboratively with councils on tree selection and placement to reduce pipe impact," Roch said.

"We’re also investigating the use of alternative sewer main construction materials which are less prone to tree root damage."

The increased duration of water service interruptions is the result of changed safety procedures for work on cast iron mains, previously used extensively in South Australia, requiring the water supply to be shut down and area excavated before the pipe is repaired.

"Our crews will always work as quickly as possible to complete repairs and get water back on, however the safety of our crews on-site and community members nearby comes first and is not negotiable," Roch said.

The report also shows only around a third of major-sized water utilities reported an increase in the volume of water supplied to residential customers. At 17 per cent, SA Water recorded the largest decrease.

"Much of South Australia experienced above average spring and summer rainfall in 2016-17, which led to a reduction in demand for both mains and recycled water," Roch said.

"On the plus side, this also provided ample supply for our metropolitan reservoirs, reducing the need to draw from the River Murray. Last year, nearly 60 per cent of drinking water supplied to our customers state-wide came from surface water (reservoirs), compared to around eight per cent in 2015-16.

"We protect affordability by using lower costs sources of water first and regularly review available resources to ensure we have an understanding of how much water levels in the reservoirs are increasing from natural inflows.

"How we supply safe, clean drinking water and remove, treat and recycle wastewater is largely dictated by the weather. To ensure we can continue to support our customers with these services, we have measures in place like the Adelaide Desalination Plant which is climate-independent and there as our drought insurance policy."

SA Water data submitted for the report is coordinated and checked by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia."

For a full copy of the report, visit

SA Water performane chart.jpeg
AuthorRay Dennis

CHOICE's Campaigns & Policy Team Leader, Katinka Day, reports that, following the recent CHOICE campaign, "Nestle has agreed to remove their dishonest 4.5 star rating from Milo!"

"Milo’s 4.5 star rating was based on 3 teaspoons of the product being mixed with skim milk. Without skim milk, Milo only gets a 1.5 star rating. Thanks to community pressure, Milo will no longer be health-washing its product with a high star rating.

This is a step forward to making health star ratings work for you. But it can be even better. The government is currently reviewing the system and you can help improve health stars by joining our calls to end food companies' tricks.

Sign our petition for a better health stars system 

Health stars are that little bit of extra information on your side, which you can use when comparing products to make a healthier choice. 

But the guidelines need tightening to make sure unhealthy products can't make themselves appear better than they really are.

Your voice is important to ensure that we achieve a health star rating system that works for you, not food companies."

AuthorRay Dennis


Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood. Today there are two articles on ‘BLOCKCHAIN’ a term that most consumers would not be familiar with, so Elaine provides this explanation to appreciate its value:

‘Blockchain is a decentralised, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the (whole) network.’

Basically it relies on the first person or company in the chain to pass on their digital data to the next, who add theirs and passes that on to the next in the chain and so on.   By this method it is possible to be able to trace back to the original source or a link in the chain very efficiently.

Blockchain may also be used in the production and tracing  back of a variety of consumer products.

Blockchain can bring supply chain transparency and transform food firms

‘Blockchain can be the ‘key mediator’ to make supply chains more transparent by enabling food firms to share data based on trust, and to transform their operations to be much more efficient, but it will require a fundamental shift in organisational mindsets.’ (Quote from John Keogh from the advisory service Shantalla Inc.)

Mr. Keogh went on to say, ‘Much of what goes on today is termed ‘Regulation Mediated Transparency’(RMT), where information is shared to meet regulatory obligations from a position of mistrust. On the other hand, Technology Mediated Transparency (TMT), which is voluntary and based on mutual trust is a higher form of transparency that organisations and networks should aspire to.’ He feels that Blockchain technology will be the key factor in building this transparency and trust to help solve issues in the supply chain faster.

Apart from the food chain, Mr Keogh pointed to an example of benefits in agriculture. He referred to the ‘connected cow’ where different devices provide crucial data.  The tail sensor alone can identify an animal in distress, which in the UK alone, can help save up to 100,00 calf and 50,000 cow deaths during birthing.  


Author: Lester Wan 18 Dec 2017 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Logistics firms join the fight  against fake food in APAC by backing blockchain consortium. 

Getting buy-in from freight forwarders, ports and shipping firms is crucial to maximising the food industry potential for blockchain to fight counterfeit goods, according to one start-up, which has formed a consortium to boost use of the technology.

While there has been a huge amount of attention devoted to the power of blockchain – encrypted digital records that cannot be tampered with, only added to, and updated for everyone in the network at the same time - chief revenue officer of the blockchain start up TBSx3,  Pieter Vandevelde, said greater regulation was needed to ensure its effectiveness.

Under the consortium, Sydney headquartered TBSx3 has brought together logistics and supply chain giants World Australia and DB Schenker to use the groundbreaking technology. Vandervelde said that 80% of the world’s consumer goods are still shipped over the oceans, meaning that the buy-in from the sector was vital to fight counterfeit goods. The alliance last year tested and utilised technology developed by TBSx3 to complete one of the largest blockchain trials to secure cargo across a global supply chain. It tracked the distribution of wines from Coonawarra, South Australia to the Port of Qingdao in north-eastern China.

“Food and beverage is at the very top of the list of industries that should benefit from blockchain, because consumers are incredibly concerned about what they eat. Being able to guarantee the safety and provenance of products is absolutely essential.” 

Food fraud is estimated to cost the global food industry between US$30bn to $40bn annually.


Author: Gary Scattergood 07 Feb-2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Australian Senate passes new supplement rules to create “world-class measurement regime"

New supplement rules designed to create “a world-class regulatory regime” in Australia was passed by the Senate on February 16. (2018) The rules, included in the Medicines and Medical Devices Review (MMDR), contain amendments to provide a new approval pathway for listing complementary medicines with high therapeutic indications and health claims.

The new health claim sits between the current, low-risk listed classification for complementary medicines, and the higher level classifications for pharmaceuticals. To qualify to make the new higher-level claims, products must be supported by rigorous scientific evidence, and tested by the regulator: the Therapeutic Goods Administration for efficacy.

Carl Gibson, CEO of industry trade body Complementary Medicines Australia, said “Achieving an appropriate regulatory regimen – one that is supportive of innovation that that doesn’t undermine the current high standards for Australian complementary medicines – will assist the complementary medicines industry to bring innovative new products to both the Australian and global markets”. 

After the USA, Australia is the second highest exporter of complementary medicines. The high international demand for Australian products is driving a major expansion of local manufacturing with an anticipated annual growth rate of 3.9%.


Author: Gary Scattergood 16 Feb-2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

On-pack allergen labelling: permissive, not precautionary, approach ‘would better protect consumers’.

Allergen labelling regulations in Australia need a complete overhaul, claims a new report, which argues that the current voluntary use of “may contain traces” statements are not adequately protecting consumers.

New research by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), being published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, examined reports of anaphylaxis in Australasia from consumption of packaged food products with or without precautionary allergen labelling (PAL), where the known allergen triggers were not a listed ingredient. In Australia two types of labelling are used by manufacturers: mandatory labelling of all ingredients; and precautionary labelling, which is used to inform consumers if a product may have traces of a certain substance.

In this study, members of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy were invited to complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire found that there had been 14 reports of anaphylaxis following ingestion of a packaged food where the suspected food allergen was not a listed ingredient. And of those reactions, 50% were reported from foods which did not have a PAL statement.  The study’s lead author, Dr Giovanni Zurzola, postdoctoral fellow from MCRI and Victoria University, pointed out that PAL labelling is currently voluntary – with some but not all packaged foods labelled with a variety of advisory warnings. The authors suggest that “permissive labelling would highlight safe and suitable foods for allergy affected individuals, and not just for foods which should be avoided, would be a better option.’

Senior author Prof Katie Allen said, “Our study showed that anaphylaxis to undeclared allergens is not rare and did not appear to depend on whether the product was labelled with precautionary advice. Current PAL practices do not assist consumers in selecting foods which are safe for consumption.’  

‘Improvements in the regulation of food labelling are required to give consumers the right information to help them make safe choices’, Prof Allen said.

Source: http;//…campaign=26-Jan-2018&c=3m8edsarlGSdgINVdhvlEpLvCK%2F3MZi0&p2=

Author: Gary Scattergood 25 Jan 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Note:  Please check indicated references for the full text of the articles.

AuthorRay Dennis

In 1999  Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) introduced Standard 1.5.2  to regulate genetically modified food - including labelling requirements.

At the time, and to date, all genetically modified foods (GM)  approved in Australia and New Zealand have been manipulated through the process ‘trans-genesis’ whereby plants have been modified by the insertion of new DNA.

However there are now new forms of gene technology being considered in the production of food: the new breeding techniques or (NBTs).  These are proposed to be used in both plant and animal products.

The food regulator has said, “A degree of uncertainty exists about whether the food produced using NBTs are “food produced using gene technology”,  because some of the new techniques can be used to make definite changes to the genome of an organism without permanently introducing any new DNA.”

“There has been ongoing scientific and public debate about these foods produced through NBTs, including what risks they might pose and whether premarket assessment and approval is appropriate for such foods.”

FSANZ’s CEO, Mark Booth, has released a consultation paper asking for the public’s views on the new breeding techniques and how laws for food derived from them should apply. For example whether they require pre-assessment for safety before they could be used as ingredients in food and/or sold as such.

The issues the public is being asked to consider are:-

  1. Food products where new pieces of DNA are inserted into the genome and remain in the organism from which food is obtained
  2. Where gene technology does not alter the genome, for example where DNA is inserted into the initial organism, but is not present in the final one from which food is obtained
  3. Where changes are made to the existing genome, but there is no new DNA present in the organism from which the food is obtained. In other words it may have been lost or destroyed during processing of the food.

Office of the Gene Technology’s Regulator, Raj Bhula, has also recently signalled a possible reduction of regulations around certain gene editing techniques  - as a result of which some would not be classed as “genetic modification”. Considering that the public are still quite distrustful of genetic modification in their food, this has created some concern. Mr. Bhula contends that, where a process is just manipulation within the organism and not introducing anything foreign (DNA), it could be viewed (and presumably regulated) differently.

At the moment the recommendations of the OGTR are open for consultation but before any changes could be made they would need to be approved by Commonwealth, State and Federal governments before becoming law.


Elaine Attwood


AuthorRay Dennis

Further to the news item posted on 24 January, about the US Department of Justice refund process for victims scammed via Western Union, the ACCC has now advised that the deadline for refund claims has been extended to 31 May 2018.

AuthorRay Dennis

Daters are advised to be careful with their information while looking for love online. Consumer and Business Services (CBS) is warning consumers of potential scams targeting consumers using dating and romance websites.

More than $20 million was lost last year to scammers targeting people looking for love on social media, email or websites. With scammers often creating very realistic profiles online, and sharing information which seems quite legitimate, it is easy to get caught out. Those most likely to be targets are over 45s looking for relationships and who are in a comfortable financial position.

Scammers will aim to gain your trust and friendship, and will then seek an opportunity to ask for assistance to pay for flights, medical bills etc.

Consumer affairs regulators are urging consumers to stay vigilant online, particularly while engaging with international persons. Follow these simple tips to help recognise a scammer:

  • Be open to the idea that scammers are prevalent online.
  • Be wary of anyone who asks you for money. This can happen within days, weeks or months of meeting someone online. Never transfer money via direct deposit, money order or international transfer.
  • Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. You can do this via Google images by clicking on the camera icon on the desktop version of the site’s search bar. This can help you identify if the image has been taken from someone else, or belongs to a few people with different names.
  • Be careful about the amount of personal information you share and avoid sharing compromising material, which scammers can use to blackmail you.
  • If you agree to meet someone in person, make sure you let your family and friends know where you will be going.

While the 2017 statistics showed a decrease of financial loss of approximately $5m from 2016 statistics, the number of reports to the ACCC and Scamwatch also went down by almost 12%.

Reporting scams provides valuable information helping regulators to track the latest way scammers are trying to deceive Australians. For more information contact CBS on 131 882 or report online at 

AuthorRay Dennis

Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood. 

Foods containing GM golden rice can be sold in Australia and New Zealand.

Products containing traces of golden rice, which is genetically modified to produce beta-carotene, should be able to be sold in Australia and New Zealand, regulators have ruled. It follows an application to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) from the humanitarian organisation, International Rice Research Institute, which cultivated the GR2E Rice line to mitigate vitamin A deficiency in developing countries. The regulators stressed the application was based on trade issues and did not permit the rice to be grown in Australia or New Zealand.

“FSANZ has determined that golden rice would contain novel DNA and novel protein, as well as an altered nutritional profile (contains beta-carotene), and would be required to carry the mandatory statement “genetically modified” on the packet label,” it stated.

“This requirement would apply to rice sold as a single ingredient food (e.g. a package of rice) and when the rice is used as an ingredient in another food (e.g. rice flour, rice milk).


Author: Gary Scattergood, 3rd January, 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Anti-GM group calls for golden rice review in Australia and New Zealand

Campaign group GE free NZ wants regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to review its draft approval for golden rice, which is genetically modified to produce beta-carotene.

Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ, questioned the efficacy of the product and urged the Minister for Food Safety Damien O'Connor to ask FSANZ to review its draft. She said, “A person would have to eat 4 kg of cooked rice, “assuming it was fully absorbed and eaten immediately after harvest with minimal cooking’,  to get the same level of vitamin A that one medium carrot or 1 teaspoon of parsley would provide.”

The International Rice Research Institute, wants the GR2E rice for developing countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines which are at high risk of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and where 30 to 70% of energy intake is derived from rice. While acknowledging that GR2E rice will not solve the issue of population-based VAD for these countries, it believes it can be a major part of an overarching strategy to reduce deficiency.

Source: https://food

Author: Gary Scattergood, 29January, 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

Diet high in salt causes cognitive decline – but it can be reversed.

Excessive salt consumption creates a gut-brain axis that leads to deficits in cognitive function, a new study on mice suggests. While a considerable number of studies have linked high salt intake to blood pressure and heart disease risks, researchers said less attention had been paid to potential cognitive effects.

Writing in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers stated, ‘We investigated the mechanisms of the harmful effects of dietary salt on the brain.  It has long been known that a high salt diet leads to alterations in endothelial function of cerebral and systemic vessels resulting from reduction in endothelial nitric oxide (NO). However most studies focused on salt induced hypertension, and it has remained unclear how long-term dietary salt intake altered cerebral vascular regulation and brain function independently of blood pressure.”

Within a few weeks, the high salt diet led to endothelial dysfunction, a reduction in cerebral blood flow and cognitive impairments in several behavioural tests, but no changes in blood pressure. These experiments were carried out on mice, but the researchers also showed similar effects for human cerebral endothelial cells, suggesting that a high salt diet might also negatively impact brain health in humans, regardless of its effect on blood pressure.

However, the effects of the high salt diet were found to be reversible after the mice were returned to normal diet, or by pharmacological intervention, suggesting that a change in lifestyle or new prescription drugs could help reverse or prevent these effects.

The researchers concluded, “While these findings highlight the key role of cerebral endothelial function in brain health, they also unveil a previously undescribed gut-brain axis whereby dietary habits compromise the brain microvasculature, leading to altered brain function and cognitive impairment.”

Source: Nature Neuroscience:

Authors: Guiseppe Franco, et al, 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

Makin’ bacon healthy: nitrite free version launches in the UK for 2018.

Nitrite free bacon that uses Mediterranean fruit and spice extracts to replace the cancer-causing chemicals used in the manufacture of traditional bacons, will be available in supermarkets later this month. (This is in the United Kingdom)

Northern Irish artisan and food manufacturer Finnebrogue claims the product, Naked bacon, will be the UK’s only bacon to be free from nitrites, preservatives, E numbers and allergens. The product is a response to comments made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which stated that nitrites found in various processed meats were as dangerous as asbestos and smoking.

It led the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to announce back in 2015 that consumption of processed meat was “carcinogenic to humans.”

Whilst the flavour is already used in continental style hams in the European Union, this will be the first time the technology has been applied to British bacon and available to UK customers, following a £14 million initial investment from Finnebrogue.


Author: Willi Chu, 3rd January, 2018 - William Reed Business media Ltd.

‘Paddock to Plate’: Beef blockchain technology to fight food fraud

A research project designed to track beef from paddock to the plate and to protect Australia’s reputation for quality production has been launched in Queensland. The BeefLedger is an industry led project bringing together design, business, technology, and food research, and is supported by the Queensland University of Technology-based $200m Food Agility CRC.

The project also features a BeefLedger token (BLT)  - a new digital crypto-currency for people to contribute to and participate in the project.  ‘The BeefLledger, is being developed as part of the design and implementation of the world’s first application of distributed ledger or block chain technology to the entire beef supply chain,” said Marcus Foth, Professor of Urban Informatics at the QUT Design Lab.  “It has the potential to revolutionise the industry by limiting price fluctuations supporting food provenance and preventing food fraud, which is a growing problem in international export markets. So whether you are a farmer, a supermarket, a butcher, a restauranteur, a consumer or another interested party, you will be able to access the entire history of the meat electronically by scanning a barcode for QR Code."


Author: Gary Scattergood, 13th December, 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd

 Note:  Full content of the articles may be found by clicking on the links above. 


AuthorRay Dennis


The ACCC’s Scamwatch is urging all Australians who lost money to a scammer through Western Union from 2004 to 2017 to take action by 12 February to try to get it back.
Western Union has agreed to pay a penalty of US$586 million to the United States’ Department of Justice (DOJ) after admitting to aiding and abetting wire fraud. The DOJ is using this penalty to provide refunds to eligible people worldwide who were tricked into paying scammers via Western Union.
Australian consumers can use an online form or apply by post to have the money they lost refunded by the DOJ. As this is a US-based action, the ACCC is unable to make claims on a consumer’s behalf or assist consumers with their claims
“Scamwatch hears heartbreaking stories on a daily basis from Australians who have lost money to scammers by wiring funds through Western Union. Over $5 million is reported lost each year to these scams but this is just the tip of the iceberg as many victims don’t contact us,” ACCC Acting Chair Michael Schaper said.
“The sad reality is that in most cases, once you have fallen victim to a scammer, the money is gone – and there’s nothing you can do to get it back. For people who have wired money via Western Union from 2004 until 2017, this may be your chance to recover some of it. There are no guarantees but we strongly encourage you to try by 12 February.”
Scamwatch says scammers often promise prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products and other financial rewards in exchange for sending money upfront through untraceable wire transfers. They also pretend to be family members in urgent need of cash, or law enforcement officers demanding payment for fines, or countless other excuses, but no one ever receives the cash, prizes or services they were promised by scammers.
For further information, visit the US Department of Justice website for updates and a detailed list of frequently asked questions.

More Information:

All wire transfers made through Western Union within and outside of the United States between 1 January 2004 and 19 January 2017 may be eligible for remission. Australian consumers can submit a claim to the US DOJ either online or by post until 12 February 2018..

This court ruling followed joint investigations by the United States' (US) Federal Trade Commission, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the US Postal Inspection Service. More information about this case is available via

[Advice received 23 January 2018 from the National Council of Women SA network] 

AuthorRay Dennis

Today, the corporate cop ASIC announced it is taking action against Radio Rentals after the company admitted to breaching responsible lending laws. 

This means that if you struggled to pay Radio Rentals contracts taken out between 1 January 2012 – 1 May 2015 you may be eligible for a refund.

Radio Rentals should contact you about this, but you can contact them via their website.

Please note: you may be able to seek more compensation from Radio Rentals than what is on offer with this refund. If you seek more compensation from Radio Rentals and are unhappy with their response, you can contact the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) to make a complaint.

[Received 23 January 2018 from Victoria’s Consumer Action LawCentre, contact: Consumer Action Legal Help]

AuthorRay Dennis

As a member of SA Water’s Residential Customer Advisory Group, Consumers SA’s representative Elaine Attwood was recently told about the corporation’s customer engagement process – Water Talks – which involves a series of events plus a new website: for "SA Water customers around the state to learn about SA Water and provide their thoughts".

Advisory Group members were also asked to disseminate the following information about Water Talks:

"SA Water is working with South Australians to plan how to best provide future water and sewerage services, and everyone is invited to have their say.

SA Water’s customer engagement process – Water Talks – involves a series of events plus a new website for SA Water customers around the state to learn about SA Water and provide their thoughts.

Your honest feedback will help SA Water understand what they do well, what needs to be improved and what you value most about your water services. SA Water will use everyone’s feedback as they develop their Regulatory Business Proposal for 2020‑24.

Every four years, SA Water submits a proposal to its regulator, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA), which outlines how it plans to operate and deliver services for its customers.

ESCOSA reviews the proposal and determines the revenue SA Water can collect from customers through their bills for water and sewerage services.

Being part of Water Talks is easy. Visit and sign up to find out more and have your say. Events across South Australia will be listed online from January 2018, so sign up to stay informed about when and where these will be held.

We encourage all SA Water customers, both residential and business, to participate in this process and sign up to Water Talks for future announcements, feedback and opportunities to take part in helping us develop our Regulatory Business Proposal.

For more information, you can also call 1300 SA WATER."

AuthorRay Dennis


The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission is warning the community to be wary of scammers trying to ruin their Christmas holidays.  In a recent message to the National Council of Women SA, the Commission says:

“Scammers often try to take advantage of people during the busy Christmas period and prey on our vulnerabilities at this time of year. For example, they may take advantage of you looking for a good deal on a family holiday, searching for a loved one’s present at an online store, or even that you’re expecting a present from someone through the post.

Watch out for three common holiday season scams:

  • Travel scams: scammers trick their victims into believing they’ve won a travel prize or scored a really good deal on a travel package, like a cruise. Unfortunately these seemingly too-good-to-be-true holidays are nothing more than a scammer’s con. In the past 12 months, nearly $86,000 has been lost to this scam, with about 1750 reports.
  • Online shopping scams: scammers will set up believable looking online stores to trick people into goods that don’t really exist. They might also set up fake online classified or auction site listings. They entice people with legitimate looking discounts and may even advertise items as the perfect Christmas present for a loved one. This scam has cost Australians more than $1.3 million in the past 12 months, with more than 6440 reports.
  • Parcel delivery scams: with millions of packages moving across the country to get under a Christmas tree in time, scammers will send fake ‘missed delivery’ notices to potential victims. These scams are aimed at getting people to download malware or ransomware onto their PCs, which can be costly to remove; or steal their personal information. Scamwatch has received about 1700 reports of this scam in the past 12 months.

Your personal information is often just as valuable to a scammer as your money so always be careful about the information you give out online.

There are some simple tips you can follow to stay ahead of scammers these holidays.

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research on any online stores you’re using, especially if it’s for the first time. Never do a deal or make a payment outside the online auction site you are using. If you are buying from a classified website only hand over the money when you have physically inspected the goods. Finally, never open attachments or download files you receive out of the blue—no matter who the email comes from or how legitimate it looks."

Further information about holiday season scams is available at

AuthorRay Dennis

Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood. 

 Gut microbiome link to high blood pressure from high salt diets

 High sodium intake and blood pressure go together like French fries and salt, but scientists have just discovered even more about how the connection works – and it’s something to do with your gut bacteria. In fact, their findings propose the gut microbiome as a potential therapeutic target.

A study has been published in ‘Nature’ which has found that a high salt diet reduced Lactobacillus bacteria in mice. After 14 days of high salt consumption several microbial species were decreased in the mice that had a high salt diet compared to the normal salt diet. The diet also caused the increased production of T  helper (TH17)  immune cells which are linked to high blood pressure. Using gene sequencing, they found the decrease of the bacteria Lactobacillus murinus from the Lactobacillus genus was most strongly associated with the high salt diet

The researchers took the next step to even demonstrate replenishing the guts of the salty mice with L.murinus reversed the effects. To top it all off they even did a small pilot study with healthy humans who increased their salt intake and found the same high blood pressure side effects as the mice.

The scientists suggest further trials with probiotics to see if they can prevent or treat salt related conditions like high blood pressure.

Source: Australia’s Science Channel: Gut microbiome linked to high blood pressure from high salt diets. 27/11/17


Researchers sugarcoat work looking into extending food shelf life’

 Scientists have outlined a simple way to protect food from bacterial contamination that uses a “sugar–glass” coating containing virus–killing bacteria, which could be used in the food packaging and processing industries.

The technique embeds these viruses into food packaging, using a combination of sugars to keep them stable for up to 3 months, proving effective against the cheese – dwelling pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

“This study describes a method of preserving bacteriophage activity in a dry format that has great potential for use as a coatings,” said the study, led by Dr Carlos Philipe, Professor and chair of the Department of chemical engineering at McMaster University. “This can be used to create antimicrobial surfaces for food preparation and for food preservation.”

Bacteriophages or “phages’ are viruses that infect and kill bacteria and have proved useful for selectively decontaminating cheese – a food that uses beneficial bacteria to cultivate its flavour. Present on fruits and vegetables, phages do not affect the odour, taste, safety or appearance of foods, leading to possibilities that these “bacteria – eaters” could have a role in food safety.

Source: https:

Author: Will Chu 20/11/17

Credit:  2017 William Reed Business media Ltd

Original source: ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering

Published online ahead of print DOI:10.1021/acsbiomaterials.7b00468

‘Long-term preservation of Bacteriophage Antimicrobials Using Sugar Glasses.’

Authors: Carlos Filipe, M. Monsur Ali et al


Diabetes from dairy? Cow’s milk ingredient may trigger type I condition: review

 An ingredient in cow’s milk has been identified as a potential type I diabetes trigger in those with genetic risk factors, but researchers say they have been frustrated in efforts to make the findings available to the wider public. Seven researchers assessed 71 studies on population epidemiology, animal trials, in vitro laboratory experiments, biochemistry and pharmacology. The paper on the findings, originally published in the Journal of nutrition and diabetes, said that the A1  beta casein in cows’ milk is a primary causal trigger of the disease. However so far there have been no clinical trials on the subject.

Two of the seven researchers, the University of Auckland’s Professor Boyd Swinburn and Lincoln University’s Professor Keith Woodford explained: “People who are genetically susceptible to developing type I diabetes would need to be identified at birth, and half of them randomly allocated to a diet free of A1 beta-casein for many years.

The paper revealed that the sudden growth in the incidence of type I diabetes in China is correlated with the country’s threefold increase in dairy consumption per capita (from 6 kg in 1992 to 18 kg in 2006, with substantial increases thereafter). The paper also stated: “accordingly, the technological epidemiological data, although not proving causation, provide powerful evidence that A1 beta casein is a causal factor in the pathogenesis of type I diabetes.”

Note: some time ago the company producing cow’s milk free from A1 beta casein was forced to withdraw their advertising making a a health claim in this regard.  

On his WordPress site, Woodford revealed that he and Swinburn had intended to make the paper free for public perusal, but in order to do that, they had to find a sponsor to pay a one – time fee to make the article free of charge. The a2 Milk Company stepped in and paid the US $3500 required to make the paper free – access.

Woodford wrote that one of the paper’s authors was a former a2 Milk Company employee, but said none of the authors were paid to write the paper.


Author: Cheryl Tay 7/11/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd


Australia’s top 10 food firms by revenue revealed, and soon none will be wholly home – owned.

 A study of Australia’s  largest food firms show 9/10 are at least partly owned by foreign companies… but with Murray Goulburn about to be sold to Canadian rival Saputo, that number will soon be zero.

Kiwi dairy giant Fonterra tops the revenue list followed by Coca-Cola Amatil – which is listed on the ASX but Coca-Cola is the largest shareholder – and Lion. Murray Goulburn took fourth spot, George Weston foods, Wilmar International, Nestle, Mondelez, Parmalat and Asahi make up the rest of the top 10.

A food map has been produced by the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia

(PHAIWA), which is now drawing attention to the fact that these 10 firms “either own or are connected to hundreds of different products, ranging from healthy to unhealthy options.”

 PHAIWA director Dr Melissa Stoneham added the research showed that just 10 companies own a large share of Australia’s food industry. “We want Australians to be more aware of the connections between products they purchase and other companies, particularly when they may be unhealthy,” she said.


Author: Gary Scattergood 2/11/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Limited.


Low sugar and GMO-free foods resonate more with today’s health – conscious consumer.

 Nearly half of all consumers class low–sugar or sugar-free products as “extremely” or “very” important when deciding what to eat or drink with similar results for products free from genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

The study, carried out by market research firm Gfk, also revealed that factors such as low–salt, organic, low-fat or fortified with vitamins or minerals score highly in the minds of the 23,000 consumers surveyed online. Worldwide, results found 48% of respondents thought products that were low-sugar or sugar-free were “extremely” or “very” important with equal number preferring products free from genetically modified ingredients. Low-sodium or low-salt products came third (45%) followed by low-fat or no fat (44%), use of local ingredients (38%) and gluten – free (26%).

Source: Low-Sugar

Author: Will Chu 30/10/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd.


Diet will “become Australia’s biggest killer” – can apps help reverse the threat?

Experts are warning that diet will become the number one modifiable actor for disease and death in Australia, overtaking cigarettes. University of Sydney Professor of Dietetics Margaret Allman-Farinelli, said: “Obesity may take over from smoking as the number one risk for cancer, with a lack of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, exercise and increased alcohol consumption to blame.”

She was speaking ahead of a seminar reflecting on 50 years of dietetics in the country, which also heard that middle aged women are increasing their alcohol consumption. This trend could be linked to bigger serves of increasingly alcoholic wine. These women, whose tipples are closing the gap on men, are also gaining weight. The event also heard that PhD candidate Monica Nour has recently published research highlighting that young Australian men eat the fewest vegetables, which is linked to health problems including increased obesity.

To address this, she is developing an app to influence fruit and vegetable intake among young adults through gamification. With 90% of Aussies owning a smart phone and 91% on social media, she said it seems like the best platform to utilise. The app will include a self-monitoring veggie tracking program – a specialised function similar to apps like MyFitnessPal -  though hers will focus on nutrient dense food intake rather than calories. “We demonstrate what an adequate serving of vegetable looks like and demonstrate how preparing your own food can be cheaper.”

Source: Diet-will….campaign

Author: Gary Scattergood  9/11/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd.


Sugar fuels aggressive cancer growth confirms breakthrough study.

 The mechanism of action that show cancer cells’ use of sugars to “awaken” cancer cells and promote aggressive cancer growth provides further insights into creating tailor–made diets for cancer patients. Nature Communications report on further evidence to explain why tumours convert significantly higher amounts of sugar into lactate compared to healthy tissues, otherwise known as the Warburg effect.

Scientists from the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology believe they may have answered the question as to whether the effect is a symptom of cancer or a cause.  “Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth,” explained Prof Johan Thevelein, co– lead study author from the University of Leuven.

“ Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumour aggressiveness.”

The nine-year joint research project conducted by the two institutions provides a new direction for and extensively studied area. As well as providing guidance for a more beneficial diet for cancer patients, the general population could well take heed of one more piece of evidence about the dangers of excessive sugar consumption.

For the food industry, attempted self-regulation have not been the expected success. So much so that governments have had to step in to impose various levies in an attempt to curb excess sugar consumption. The UK will introduce its soft drinks industry levy in April 2018.


Author: Will Chu 17/10/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd

Original Source: Nature Communications

Published online ahead of print doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01019-z

“Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate couples glycolytic flux to activation of Ras”

Authors: Johan Thevelein et al

Please check references for the full account of the articles mentioned. 

AuthorRay Dennis

The Consumers SA 2017 Annual General Meeting was held on 21 November.  Members present heard a comprehensive report on the year’s activities from the Association’s President, Ian Butterworth FASAE JP.  

In summary Ian noted that, "Committee Members manage to cover many areas of concern to consumers without any direct government financial assistance.  Even though we are a small dedicated team of volunteers, we are asked many times to find representatives to attend a number of semi-government, and outside of government, Consumer Consultative Groups which we manage to do.  So it is with great appreciation that I personally say well done, to all existing Committee members for their untiring dedication and effort over the past year". 

Download a copy of Ians full report by clicking here.

AuthorRay Dennis

In an email sent to members on 10 November, CHOICE urges all conumers to support its latest campaign for clear added sugar labelling in Australia.  The email reads:

“Right now food companies don’t have to declare how much sugar they add to their food products. This makes it almost impossible for Australians to follow health advice to reduce added sugar intake.

But if we act now this could change soon. Health Ministers are meeting in just a few weeks, and they’re set to decide whether food companies should label added sugar. 

Labels are for consumers, they are not for food companies to hide information about what is in their product. Can you take a minute to tell your state or territory Health Minister you want clear added sugar labelling?

Added sugar can cause lifelong damage to your teeth - everything from cavities to irreparable tooth damage. The stories and statistics are horrifying: In 2013 over 63,000 people (mostly children) were hospitalised due to preventable dental issues such as cavities or tooth decay. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why we’re teaming up with the Australian Dental Association to let people know about the dental risks associated with added sugar.

Can you watch our latest video, and tell your state Health Minister you support clear added sugar labelling?

It’s up to all of us to show Health Ministers that Australians want clear and honest labelling. Email them before they meet later this month"

AuthorRay Dennis

In the course of recent consultations the Essential Services Commission of SA has become aware that many energy consumers are not always familiar with what the Guaranteed Service Level (GSL) is, and what consumers can and can’t claim when specified service levels are not met.

Attached is a Fact Sheet from ESCOSA, that may also be found on their website, which explains what the GSL is and when it can be claimed.

AuthorRay Dennis

SA Power Networks (SAPN) has advised consumers that it has progressively installed over 5,000 overhead line fault indicators aimed at improving electricity supply rectification times.  See the details here. Consumers need to know what these indicator do so they can inform SAPN and help to reduce outage times. 

AuthorRay Dennis

Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood. 


 Salt content in Australian ready meals has risen by 31% since 2010, new research reveals. This means the average ready meal contains 50% of an adult’s recommended daily salt intake, with some containing well over the maximum daily amount in a single serving. The report jointly published by the Georgia Institute for Global Health and VicHealth examined the salt content of 1478 supermarket ready meals including popular pasta, curry and noodle dishes, as well as traditional meat and vegetable meals. The serving sizes of ready meals vary significantly, thereby affecting how much salt is taken in a single serving. The number of supermarket ready meals captured increased from 208 products in 2010 to 473 products in 2017.

Heart Foundation Victoria CEO, Kelly-Ann Jolly said reducing the amount of salt in processed and packaged foods could save thousands of lives each year by reducing heart, stroke and kidney disease and until there is a commitment to reformulate these foods with less salt, we will continue to see an increase in the number of Australians with high blood pressure, a major contributor to heart disease, a condition that affects close to 6 million Australians. The “unpack the salt” campaign was launched in August by VicHealth and the Heart Foundation to raise consumer awareness about the high levels of salt in processed and packaged foods.

 Source: Breaking News - Foodnavigator - Asia. 4/10/17

Author: Lester Wan 3/10/17.  Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd.



 Food companies have been urged to simplify food date labels worldwide by 2020, by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) , which counts Tesco, Kellogg, Walmart, Nestle, Carrefour and Unilever amongst its members. The CGF last month called for companies to simplify “sell by”, “display until” and “best before” dates, which can cause confusion and cost families huge amounts through unnecessarily waste. It urged retailers and food producers to take three important steps to simplify date labels and reduce food waste by 2020: use only one label at a time; make a choice of two labels – one expiration date for perishable items (e.g. “use by”) and one food quality indicators for non-– perishable items (e.g. “best if used by”); and undertake consumer education, so that they better understand what date labels mean.

At a recent meeting the CGF - a network of 400 of the biggest consumer goods companies across 70 countries, along with Champions 12.3 – a coalition of more than three dozen leaders across governments, business and civil society, approved the call to standardise the date labels worldwide by 2020. Companies were also urged to partner with non-profit organisations and government agencies to educate consumers on how to interpret date labels. Around 1.3 billion tonnes of food worldwide is wasted each year.


Author: Rick Pendrous  9/10/17  Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd.



 Food, beverage and grocery Australia’s largest manufacturing sectors – are set to be hard-hit by rising gas prices and other pressures. The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (AFGC) State of the Industry Report 2017 states that the rising cost of gas could put at risk the sector’s 33% of Australian manufacturing jobs. Tanya Barden, CEO, AFGC,  said that input costs are rising on everything from commodities to labour to energy, and the six years of retail price deflation and rising labour costs the industries have undergone “continues to cut margins, placing the sector under increasing pressure”. The report, compiled by EY, highlights strong employment growth and encouraging capital investment (4.7% increase) in the last financial year. However, unexpected increases in input costs as well as falling exports and flat overall turnover could impact the recent turnaround.

Glenn Carmody, consumer and industrial products market segment leader, EY, commented: “Growing markets in Asia and the improvement of market access through free trade agreements should further support the industry’s growing export market and provide additional opportunities.” He did also point out that the sector faces a number of challenges including a decline in productivity.

Source: www.foodnavigator - asia. com/Headlines/Markets/Australia    24/10/17

Author: Lester Wan 18/10/17  Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd



 The number of South Australians requiring assistance to access food has increased by 21% over the past year, a charity says, with electricity prices largely to blame. The latest report by charity Foodbank SA indicates more than 102,000 South Australians needed help to get food in the past year, compared with 85,000 the previous year.

Foodbank SA CEO Greg Pattinson said the figure was the worst the organisation had seen and was largely attributed to rising electricity prices, although job losses and lack of employment opportunities were contributing factors. “The main difference seems to be in bill shock, where people are having to seek food because of unexpected or high bills and, in particular in South Australia, we’re seeing utility bills as being the big one”, he said.

The ACCC today (24 October 2017), released a report that found the average power bill for South Australian households had increased by 48% since 2007 – 08. While the rest of the country suffered increases largely due to increased network costs, in South Australia it was attributed mainly to generation costs.

South Australia Council on Social Services,  (SACOSS) when speaking as part of antipoverty week, says there was little awareness of the extra costs being shouldered by people on low or fixed incomes. It said that people often had to pay more for groceries, utilities and telecommunications because they did not have the disposable income to buy in bulk or pay up front and earn discounts.

SACOSS  policy officer, Greg Ogle said, “We can actually look and understand just how inadequate income supports like Newstart and Youth Allowance are, so we are certainly calling for an increase in income support payments to help people who are struggling with these poverty premiums”.

Source: ABC News 16/10/17. Credit:

For full articles please go to the references supplied. 

AuthorRay Dennis



Following the recent report from ‘In Daily’ that the Health Coalition were renewing their call for a sugar tax (20/9/17) in Australia, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, joined the Food and Beverage Industry in rejecting the idea.

Mr. Turnbull said, ‘Australian consumers already pay enough taxes at the supermarket and should not be forced to pay an extra 20% for sweetened drinks.'   He further suggested that it (the tax) should not be seen as the solution to Australia’s obesity crisis.

It is estimated that 63% of Australian adults are either overweight or obese. This translates to an estimated annual cost to the health budget of about A$8.6bn.

However, the Prime Minister said the strategy for turning around the situation should centre oneducations, awareness and action. He also said that ‘Labelling is very important, health messages through the media… but also exercise. Get up and walk.’

A statement issued by Australia’s Food and Beverages industry also opposed a sugar tax and stated that a broader approach is needed. 

‘We believe there is no single cause or quick fix solution,’  a joint statement released by eight major food and drinks groups led by the Australian Food Grocery Council said.

Source: Free newsletter - Breaking News on Food and Beverage Development and Technology - Asia Pacific 22/9/17: Author:  RJ Whitehead : William Reed Business Media .


Australian start-up company Huskee has raised more than $114 million via a kickstarter campaign to produce coffee cups and lids made from coffee husks, the layer of cells that coat a coffee bean. The idea for the Huskee cup came from the problems surrounding waste disposal from coffee processing and it is expected to be available from February 2018. At the end of a harvest, coffee farmers manage hundreds of tonnes of husk waste where it has previously been used as a fertiliser supplement and carbonised fuel source.

Saxon Wright, co-founder, HuskeeCup, says as demand for the product increases, he expects the network of farms will have to increase regionally and then internationally. At present the husks are sourced from coffee farms in China in Yunnan province, a special coffee region where members of his team have been working in partnership with local farmers for the last decade.

Wright said, ‘We wanted to create a closed loop system, so we thought if we could use waste from farming to create a cup we could solve problems both at the café and farm level”. Annually 1.35 million tonnes of husk waste is generated globally while the average coffee drinker contributes about 3 kg of husk waste each year.

The design was not without its challenges such as the thermal qualities of the cup during production because it has no handle. The team is already working on a more eco-friendly version of the cup. “We have been researching all kinds of polymers – we want to use CO2 capturing microbes to produce our base biopolymer to blend with our husk” said Wright.

Source: Free Newsletter, breaking news on beverage technology and markets, 25/8/17: Author: Jenny Eagle: William Reed Business Media SAS


Waste cooking oil from café’s and fast food outlets is being used to capture mercury pollution from Australian mining sites and industrial plants. The technology, developed at Flinders University, is being trialled at mine sites as plans for commercial production take shape.

Mercury leaching into the environment through mining and burning fossil fuel can be a biological disaster, and will soon be regulated by United Nations Convention to prevent harm to humans. Flinders team of scientists, led by Justin Chalker, developed a polymer called sulphur – limonene poly sulphide (S LP) from orange oil in 2015 to tackle the issue. However, the relatively high cost of SLP, its limited application and lack of durability to handle a serious field trial meant the team needed alternatives.

The new polymer has only two ingredients, a second-hand canola oil and sulphur – a common, low-cost byproduct from petroleum production. It can be used in remediation of soil, water and air. After absorbing mercury pollution the rubber like polymer changes colour from brown to black to indicate the job is done. The mercury remains permanently bound in the polymer and can be safely stored without further environmental risk.

“In any industry where mercury is omitted or used intentionally they will most likely be obligated legally to have a clear plan for controlling those admissions and in cases where there is no technology that can be feasibly used at a reasonable price, they will be forced to find other alternatives and we are hoping we can fill that gap,’ Dr Chalker said.

Source: Free Newsletter - Breaking News on Food & Beverage Industry and Technology - Asia Pacific 19/9/17: Author: R.J. Whitehead: William Reed Business Media SAS


Creating products based on personalised nutrition and sustainable functional foods from waste products, along with improving shelf life by using new technology, offer the biggest growth opportunities for Australian nutrition and food firms in an increasingly competitive global market. That’s the view of James Deverell, director of CSIRO Futures – the national science agency’s strategy and advise division. He recently revealed the organisation had identified these core areas in light of five global trends it saw as shaping nutrition and food industry.

Speaking at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) convention in Sydney, he elaborated on the five trends: growing sources of international competition, consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated as global incomes rise, the increase in non-communicable diseases and ageing populations, threats to natural resources, and the need for greater supply chain efficiency.

 Deverell then suggested that devising products for particular population groups based on age, weight, sleep patterns or fitness objectives could reap big rewards, while the falling cost of genetic testing could lead to individual solutions for digestive health. “We also know we have many people who are elderly and have a problem with swallowing. They need to increase protein and zinc intake, and we could actually do this through 3D – printed food”, he added.

The second opportunity is creating new functional foods from waste products.

Source: Free newsletter - Breaking News on Supplements, Health and Nutrition - Asia Pacific 22/9/17: Author: Gary Scattergood: William Reed Business Media SAS

Note: For full stories please refer to the William Reed Business Media SAS website.





AuthorRay Dennis

Subject to our earlier opinion piece on a sugar tax, the following article, headed: “Health Coalition renews push for sugar tax" appeared in ‘In Daily’ on 20 September 2017. CSA continues to keep a watching brief.  

AuthorRay Dennis