Call for food regulation reform in Victoria

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st December 2011

The Managing Principal of food-specialist law firm FoodLegal, Joe Lederman, has called for an official investigation into the current system of food safety administration in the State of Victoria.

Mr Lederman says that his firm has been “inundated” by phone calls from municipal Environmental Health officers around Victoria, following statements attributed to him in an earlier article published by Australian Food News.

Mr Lederman was also quoted previously by the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne in an investigative article on Saturday 17 December 2011. In the article, Mr Lederman stated there is a “serious lack of co-ordination” in Victoria and that “every council seems to be doing its own thing”.

Mr Lederman said that the information relayed by callers concerned:

  • Inadequate or no training.
  • Officers do not leave the office for food inspections except by appointment.
  • Officers will openly admit they hate doing food shop inspections.
  • The Department of Health publishes documents advocating collaborative and educational approaches in lieu of legal action.
  • Most councils do not have a budget item for prosecutions under the Food Act.
  • The protocol put in place by the Department of Health’s food safety unit in Victoria discourages the use of infringement notices.
  • A large percentage of officers are inadequately trained for the statutory duties they perform.
  • Many officers are obsessed with the doctrine of education of proprietors being the main role in carrying out their duties and not their statutory responsibilities on behalf of the safety of the public.
  • The legislation requires only one inspection per year of most premises.

Joe Lederman told Australian Food News today, “There should be serious investigations into how the Food Act is administered in Victoria.”