Food Safety

Food safety is everyone’s responsibility and all businesses have a role to play in maintaining food safety. Food business owners are legally responsible under the Food Act 2001 to ensure the food and beverages sold to their consumers is safe to eat.

Food safety risks include risks from veterinary drug and pesticide residues, food additives, pathogens, environmental toxins such as heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. Food safety is an important trade issue with public health and biosecurity implications at state, national and international levels.

A business that sells food or provides food as part of a service is a ‘food business’ for the purpose of the Food Act 2001. Food businesses are required to comply with the food safety requirements of Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Making the most of doing things the right way

Consistent product safety and quality are essential for any food business to survive. Food safety and quality systems is sometimes seen as a cost burden on individual businesses, however, if used wisely and proactively to add value to the product, will ensure the survival of your business and may even give you a point of difference over your competitors.

There is an increasing level of education and knowledge amongst consumers who are looking for products that are healthy, convenient and provide them with good value for money but also now increasingly want to know where the ingredients were sourced and how they are processed.

National, and state-based, food safety initiatives promote and improve food safety in meat and primary industry sectors and third party accreditation for food safety and handling practices can also help open up access to international markets.

There are recognised accreditation programs in food production and handling that businesses can choose to adopt, such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), which signal your business meets the industry-agreed international standard. Compliance with these programs can be an advantage to your business and many customers now require current accreditation under these programs before they will accept your products for sale or use.

South Australian food safety regulations

The four key goals for current food safety regulations in SA are:

  • strengthening the administration of the food safety regulatory framework in South Australia
  • increasing stakeholder knowledge, capacity and innovation to facilitate an effective food regulatory system
  • increasing consumer awareness and knowledge of safe food practices
  • increasing the knowledge base of emerging risks and trends

Food safety management systems

The majority of food businesses are inspected by local government officers for compliance with Food Safety Standards. Your local council will be able to advise you about any inspection fees that may apply.

For some businesses additional food safety management systems are being introduced including audited Food Safety Programs.

HACCP

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a globally-recognised production management system for food products. This system is based on the prevention of risk and is used to identify any physical, biological or chemical hazards in any part of the production process that could mean the product is unsafe for consumption. It is also used to identify potential allergens. Hazards are analysed and systems and measurements designed to reduce or remove these risks and auditing against these standards. HACCP is a voluntary system in Australia at present, although some customers now require proof of HACCP accreditation before they will purchase some food products.

Product recalls

A product recall is the formal process of recalling all stock of the specific product from all distribution channels, customers and consumers who have purchased it. Generally this occurs because a fault or contamination has been identified. Any such contamination or fault should be treated as a serious risk to both consumers and your business. Having a product recall plan is part of a good operational plan in a food business, and is a legal requirement for all businesses that are not simply food retailers. The

SA Health provides information for food businesses on the required Food Standards.

Their resources include information developed to help new businesses, specific food industry sector information, health and hygiene responsibilities for food business’ and skills and knowledge for food handlers plus resources on developing a Food recall plan and a Food Safety work plan.

Biosecurity SA  develops and applies legislation and initiatives to promote and improve food safety in primary industry sectors. It aims to boost consumer and industry confidence and market access opportunities in South Australia by:

  • developing strong working partnerships with industry stakeholders and other government departments, particularly the SA Health
  • developing and implementing strategies to manage risks by targeting high risk businesses
  • ensuring that primary production and processing businesses across meat, seafood and citrus sectors comply with the requirements of the Primary Produce (Food Safety Schemes) Act 2004 relevant regulations and standards.

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Food Safety program helps South Australian businesses meet public health legislation and market access health criteria. Some of the research outputs from this service include public health epidemiology, veterinary public health, statistical analysis, toxicology, predictive microbiology, risk modelling, food microbiology and risk communication.

Additional Australian government support, through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), assists industry and other government agencies to ensure the safety and security of Australia’s food supply.

Want more information?

  • SA Health Food Standards
    In South Australia food businesses are required to comply with the Food Act 2001 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand
    Develops food standards to cover the food industry in Australia and New Zealand. We develop the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code which regulates the use of ingredients, processing aids, colourings, additives, vitamins and minerals.
  • Food safety programs
    A food safety program is a tool that ensures food safety through the identification and control of hazards in the production, manufacturing and handling of food.
  • National regulation
    The federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Food Regulation and Safety section works with industry and other Australian government agencies to ensure Australia’s food regulations protect public health and safety.
  • Food and grocery safety recalls in Australia
    This site is hosted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and covers all types of product recalls by category.

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