After an assessment done by the then Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) in 2018 determined that a large amount of food-borne illness was linked to food service and closely related retail sectors, a proposal for new standards meant to enhance food businesses’ food safety management practices is now under review.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has proposed changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to help strengthen food safety practices and lower the rate of food-borne illnesses caused by food service and retail businesses.
FSANZ is now seeking feedback from interested parties, with the draft of the new standards open for public comments until April 11, 2022. Regulators and businesses will then have 12 months to implement the new measures if approved.
What’s included in the new food safety standards?
Australian jurisdictions that have already implemented additional safe food handling requirements have seen improved food safety behaviours, and the proposed changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code hopes to introduce national, risk-proportionate standards to lower food-borne illness rates.
“The majority of businesses do an excellent job in providing Australians with safe food, however our assessment of food safety management practices in the sector has found a need for strengthened standards to ensure greater consistency and reduce rates of foodborne illness,” said interim FSANZ CEO Sandra Cuthbert.
The proposed changes would introduce nationally consistent food safety management regulations that would require:
- A Food Safety Supervisor on staff
- Food Handler training
- Businesses to provide evidence to substantiate food safety management
These measures would be regulated based on a business’s level of food safety risk. FSANZ has grouped food businesses into three categories:
- Category 1: Businesses who make and serve potentially hazardous food (PHF) and are associated with the highest food safety risks. These businesses would need to implement all three regulatory measures.
- Category 2: Retailers of unpackaged ready-to-eat PHF. These businesses would need to employ a Food Safety Supervisor and require food handler training for employees.
- Category 3: Retailers of pre-packaged ready-to-eat PHF, which remain packaged during sale. These businesses will not face new rule changes.
“Businesses will fall into one of three categories, with those associated with high food safety risks required to apply more food safety measures than those with lower risks,” Cuthbert said.
Be prepared for new food safety regulations
Many states and territories in Australia have already implemented additional food safety standards to help reduce the risk of food-borne illness. For example, in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory, employing trained Food Safety Supervisors is already a requirement. Learn more about the food safety laws and regulations specific to your state or territory.
The best way to be prepared for any changes to the Food Standards Code is to ensure everyone working with food in your business is already trained in safe food handling practices. Not only will training help your business stay on top of changes to food safety regulations, it will help lower the risk of food safety incidents in your organisation.
The Australian Institute of Food Safety’s (AIFS) nationally recognised Food Safety Courses, which include an approved Food Safety Supervisor Course, provide the comprehensive training you and your whole staff need to stay compliant with food safety regulations and prevent food-borne illness outbreaks. Contact us to learn more today.