New legislation to make eating out safer: Food Authority

Posted by Editorial on 13th November 2009

Food from NSW restaurants, take-aways, bakeries, caterers, pubs and clubs will be safer to eat when legislation passed by the State Government this week takes effect, according to the state’s Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald.

“The new Food Amendment (Food Safety Supervisor) Bill will require food businesses in the NSW hospitality and retail food service sector to appoint a food safety supervisor,” he advised. “These Food Safety Supervisors will need to complete mandatory training and be in a position to implement safe food handling practice in the business.”

“This is another step towards realising the NSW government’s visions of a safe and secure food supply coupled with a strong, profitable hospitality industry.”

Minister Macdonald said the hospitality industry was one of the corner-stones of the NSW economy and it is keen to target foodborne illness and continue to build its reputation.

“The industry is, however, over-represented on the name and shame list for food law breaches, accounting for 93 per cent of entries which is simply unacceptable,” he added. “Poor food handling practices in hospitality businesses cause over a third of foodborne illness outbreaks in NSW.”

“The direct cost of foodborne illness to NSW is estimated at $150 million not to mention the inconvenience and suffering of those who fall ill.”

Minister Macdonald said Food Safety Supervisors would be required to have a NSW Food Safety Supervisor Certificate.

“The mandatory food handler training will formalise skills and knowledge by requiring completion of accredited training within the national Vocational and Education and Training system,” he reported. “The initiative will also align with the training requirements for a food safety supervisor in Queensland and Victoria, ensuring mutual recognition of qualifications for food safety supervisors across the eastern seaboard states.”

Mr Macdonald said the scheme would commence in April 2010, although businesses would have a full 12 months to comply and must demonstrate compliance by April 2011.

“The NSW Food Authority will further consult with the hospitality and retail food service industries, local councils and registered training organisations in the coming months to ensure a smooth, efficient implementation of the new requirements,” he said.

The Minister contends that it will be beneficial for both business and consumers as food safety will be strengthened and the likelihood of businesses being issued a penalty notice or costly prohibition order should decline.

Charities, not for profit organisations, canteens, childcare centres and other similar venues will be exempt from the first phase of the program.