FSANZ proposes national standard for meat production and processing

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th October 2013

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has called for submissions on a proposed primary production and processing standard for meat in Australia.

The proposed standard provides a national “whole of chain” approach to food safety and regulation of meat products, according to FSANZ.

“The standard recognises that existing State and Territory laws already cover things such as animal feed and water, traceability and processing activities,” said Steve McCutcheon, FSANZ Chief Executive Officer.

“What the proposed new standard will do is bring all these things under the one umbrella so that if there is a food incident, regulators will be better placed to investigate food safety matters through the entire meat supply chain,” Mr McCutcheon said.

“Having this ability provides the public and industry with assurance that the regulator can investigate, where appropriate, food safety matters at any point in the meat supply chain,” Mr McCutcheon said.

FSANZ is examining food safety management in the primary production and processing stages of the meat supply chain, addressing meat and meat products from major and minor meat species (for example, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, buffalo, camels, alpacas, llamas, deer, horses, donkeys, rabbits, crocodiles, ostrich and emu) and wild game. The proposal also considers rendered products for human consumption and natural casings.

FSANZ said the draft variation:

  • enables management of hazards through the entire meat supply chain by establishing a set of food safety requirements that all businesses must meet i.e. integrates the producer and processor providing a national “whole of chain” approach to food safety regulation
  • the regulatory option is a low cost refinement which will make the regulation of meat more robust. More stringent regulatory options have not been considered because risks are well managed.
  • will provide the public and industry with assurance that the regulator can investigate, where appropriate, food safety matters at any point in the meat supply chain.
  • is consistent with the principles of meat hygiene applying to primary production articulated in the Codex Code of Hygienic Practice for Meat.

Will a new meat processing standard be useful?

The meat industries across Australia are currently regulated on a State-by-State basis. Because the meat industry needs to be regulated as a primary industry, the regulators and laws enforced by these agencies are completely independent of the Australian New Zealand Standards Code. Once the products make it to retail shelves, they become regulated as food products.

Given this framework, each State currently has its own set of regulations that go far beyond anything currently in the Food Standards Code. The meat industry and its regulators rely on far more detailed Australian Standards. Industry commentators have suggested this begs the question of whether the new Meat Processing Standard will actually make a difference to the regulation of meat production and whether it is a valuable use of time and resources.

The closing date for submissions is 3 December 2013.

Meat production in Australia could have a national standard