Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is seeking public comment on proposed new food safety management standards for food service and retail businesses.
Interim FSANZ CEO Dr Sandra Cuthbert said the proposed amendments to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) were designed to strengthen food safety management practices and introduce nationally consistent, risk-proportionate standards to reduce rates of foodborne illness.
“The food services sector is vitally important to the Australian economy and our way of life,” Dr Cuthbert said.
“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.
“The proposed changes will help food businesses enhance their food safety management practices, delivering safer food to consumers and supporting improved business and consumer confidence. The food service sector has demonstrated their responsiveness to enhancing safety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with food businesses and handlers rising to the challenge of meeting COVID health and safety requirements.”
FSANZ considered three specific food safety measures to reduce rates of foodborne illness – having a food safety supervisor on staff, training food handlers and ensuring businesses can provide evidence to substantiate food safety management.
Risk-proportionate regulation is proposed, with targeted measures to apply to businesses based on their level of food safety risk.
“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,” Dr Cuthbert said.
“FSANZ considers these requirements are appropriate and practical, can be readily implemented in the relevant sector, and are able to be maintained over time.
“Regulatory measures would be supported by food safety culture initiatives and an education campaign for businesses and environmental health officers.
“This approach aims to provide the greatest impact on reducing foodborne illness in Australian food service and retail settings without unnecessary regulatory burden.”
FSANZ invites comments from interested parties on the proposed measures by 6pm (Canberra time) 11 April 2022.
FSANZ will consider all submissions before making a final decision. All FSANZ decisions on proposals to develop or update standards are notified to the ministers responsible for food regulation in Australia and New Zealand. They can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.
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