Government calls for food industry submissions on proposed Food Act changes
Food outlets, local governments and other interested parties are being invited to take part in an extensive review of Victoria’s Food Act.
The Food Act 1984 regulates the sale of food in Victoria, to ensure food is safe and suitable for human consumption and a number of possible changes to the current legislation have already been outlined.
“The Brumby Government is taking action to ensure the highest standards of food safety for all Victorians,” Health Minister Daniel Andrews stated. “The Government commissioned the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) to conduct a review into food regulation in September, 2006. The review looked at ways of reducing the regulatory burden on businesses, consumers and the not-for-profit sector, while ensuring the highest standards of food safety.”
“VCEC released its final report in September, 2007, and the Government published its response earlier this year,” Mr Andrews advised. “We’re now calling on the food industry and interested parties to have their say on proposed changes to the Food Act.”
Proposed changes to the Food Act as a result of the VCEC report include:
· Local councils being given the power to issue on-the-spot fines to food outlets that breach health standards, and to charge for repeat inspections of non-compliant businesses
· Establishing a single registration process for temporary and mobile food businesses such as food vans and farmers’ market stalls so registration in one local government area is recognised throughout Victoria
· Greater consistency and clarification around the respective powers of local and state government
· Focusing on businesses where food safety risks are the greatest through the development of a new risk classification system. This is planned to ease the regulatory burden on community fundraisers such as sausage sizzles and cake stalls.
The Department of Human Services will be consulting key stakeholders such as local governments, various food industry peak bodies and consumer groups over the coming weeks to discuss the proposed reforms. “More than 45,000 food businesses across Victoria are registered under the Act. They and many other food businesses will be affected by these reforms so it’s important we consult widely with the community,” Mr Andrews said. “The food industry employs about 370,000 people in Victoria and generates $6.8 billion in exports, so we must look at ways to further support this vital industry.”
Food safety has become of increasing importance and state governments have been looking at ways to strengthen their legislation to ensure those who disregard food safety are dealt with appropriately. In NSW, for example, this has led to the introduction of naming and shaming legislation which allows the NSW Food Authority to publish the names of offenders on their website.
Submissions to the Victorian Government will be accepted up until September 2, 2008.
For a copy of the consultation paper on the proposed changes visit www.health.vic.gov.au/foodsafety/.