Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has started a review of food safety standards.

The first proposal covers food safety management tools for the foodservice and retail sector.

It considers additional regulatory measures to address higher risk activities undertaken by these sectors.

Completion of the assessment and preparation of the draft food regulation will be in place by the end of October this year.

Public comment will be open from the end of November to mid-January 2020 and consultation will also be done with the foodservice and retail industry.

If approval happens in March next year and a review is not sought, the changes are expected to be registered as legislation by late May 2020.

FSANZ is reviewing two chapters of the Food Standards Code. Chapter 3 contains food safety standards for businesses and Chapter 4 has primary production and processing standards for primary producers.

In April 2017, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation identified three areas for 2017 to 2021 to strengthen the regulatory system. One of these was to reduce foodborne illness, particularly Campylobacter and Salmonella.

Last month, businesses in New Zealand were given the option of using three new tools. Remote verification, “My Food Rules” and “My Food Plan” are an attempt at a modern approach to food safety regulation.

Managing food safety in Maroondah

Meanwhile, Maroondah City Council in Australia has changed its approach to food safety risk assessments.

From July, the council has been using a new system to determine overall food safety risk and communicate this with businesses.

Rob Steane, Mayor Councilor, said council Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) visit food premises in the Victorian state to ensure businesses have a good understanding of food safety risks to reduce foodborne illness.

“Following an inspection, businesses will be given an overall risk rating of high (critical); medium (major) or low risk to the community,” he said.

“Our objective is to help food businesses to identify the areas where things can go wrong and provide guidance on the actions required to prevent food from becoming unsafe or unsuitable for human consumption and sale. We are focusing more on food processes and food handling, and ensuring businesses understand how to prevent selling unsafe or unsuitable food.”

EHOs are responsible for implementing the Food Act 1984 through registration, monitoring by inspections and food sampling, education and compliance.

Steane said most food preparation occurs behind closed doors so customers are often unaware of how products are made.

“Council EHOs ensure that food businesses within Maroondah operate in accordance with Australia and New Zealand food standards. EHO’s achieve this through a range of services and programs, including annual assessments and follow up inspections; plan approvals for new premises; food safety education, investigating food complaints and food poisoning incidents,” he said.

“Maintaining the safety of food requires constant vigilance by government, industry, and consumers as the food supply changes as a result of new technologies, expanding trade opportunities, and changing trends and dietary needs.”

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