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Meeting The Challenge Of Food Safety

by Andrew Thomson on August 21, 2018



It took a catastrophic food borne illness outbreak to reform food safety in Australia!

This outbreak of food borne illness is commonly referred to as Garibaldi; it occurred over the Christmas 1994 holiday period in the state of South Australia. My earlier post discussed

Garibaldi – A Tragedy And Turning Point In Australian Food Law

The effects of the Garibaldi outbreak nearly ruined the smallgoods industry, it also sent a huge ripple through the Australian food industry and regulatory authorities alike. Pressure mounted on State and Territory Health Ministers and they directed ANZFA as it was known then to draft national food standards.

It was twenty-one years ago when Australia’s new food policy framework was first unveiled in April 1997 by Winsome McCaughey AO, Chair of Australia New Zealand Food Authority at a Victorian Department of Health conference A Fresh Approach to Food Hygiene.

This conference took place at a time when there was a significant spike in salmonella notifications up to April of that year which had passed the previous year’s total. There was also a series of acts of deliberate contamination of food which projected food safety into the public spotlight and at a political level both domestically and with overseas trading partners.

It also provided the platform for the Victorian Health Minister Rob Knowles to announce proposed new food safety laws requiring every Victorian food business to have a HACCP based food safety program – ahead of the national approach. These laws came into effect in 1999.

Why the need for a fresh approach to food safety?

McCaughey said in her Conference presentation….

“Because the levels of food borne illness are on the rise.

Because of the cost to consumers, government and industry.

Because the public, politicians and the press are voicing their concerns very strongly and are demanding change.

Because traditional regulatory approaches are simply not appropriate in the face of the new food circumstances”.

Dr Gordon Burch the former Chief Scientist at ANZFA stated that Australia will move from a “command and control” prescriptive based approach to an “outcomes-based” approach that was consistent with other overseas countries – it was based on public health grounds and economics.

In the year 2000 a Commonwealth and States and Territories Agreement ensured the adoption of the Food Standards Code into respective State and Territory food legislation between 2001 and 2003.

This Agreement enabled the introduction of Chapter 3 of the Food Standards Code consisting of three food safety standards: Standard 3.1.1 (Interpretation and application; Standard 3.2.2 (Food safety practices and general requirements); and Standard 3.2.3 (Food premises and equipment). The introduction of these legislative requirements is applicable to all Australian food business owners and it enables any action between food regulators and food business owners.

The intent of the Food Safety Standards was to provide a nationally consistent set of food safety requirements for food businesses and place obligations on them to produce food that is safe and suitable to eat – it is making industry fully accountable for the safety of their food up and down the food supply chain.

Final word….. 

A food business cannot innovate and become a market leader without first being in compliance with food law requirements.

The health, safety and welfare of your employees, customers and clients should be of paramount importance to any food business.

Related article:

A Recipe For Business Success

So what is your biggest food safety challenge? Contact Andrew Thomson