Kingborough Council - Food Safety - Tasmania

Food Safety

I'M ALERT - Online Food Safety Program

 Im Alert

 

Food Safety facts and figures

Food borne illness is on the rise in Australia and is caused by people eating food contaminated with pathogenic bacteria or viruses. It is estimated that there are about two million cases of food borne illness every year in Australia; this means that on average there about 5500 cases every day in Australia. It is interesting to note that about 20% of these cases are a result of meals prepared in people's homes.

Food poisoning is very serious and can make people very sick. It can even result in death. There are many bacteria associated with food poisoning and some of these include:

  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Staphlococcus aureus
  • Salmonella spp
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Esherichia coli
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Yersinia entercolitica
  • Bacillus cereus

There are many different types of food that have been implicated in outbreaks of food poisoning. Some of these include; meat, seafood, fruit, salads, dairy products, juices, eggs, poultry, pasta and rice dishes.

Food Businesses 

In Tasmania food businesses need to be registered with the relevant Local Government Authority. This means that in Kingborough, businesses involved in the sale of potentially hazardous food need to register with the Kingborough Council.  Please contact Council's Environmental Health Officer for an application form. Businesses selling food that is not considered to be potentially hazardous (eg pre-packaged chocolate, bags of chips, canned goods, fresh fruit and vegetables) still need to notify the Council about what they are selling and of the business details. To do this a notification form needs to be filled out and returned to the Council. Notification is required to enable EHOs from the Council to to quickly action food recalls.

Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) from the Council carry out regular inspections of all registered food premises within the municipality and check to make sure that these businesses are operating in line with the requirements of the Food Act 2003 and the Food Safety Standards.

There are a lot of things that EHOs look for when doing inspections and these include:

  • Cleanliness
  • Safe food handling practices
  • Appropriate temperature control of potentially hazardous food
  • Whether premises that manufacture food have a written food recall program
  • Food labelling
  • Whether the premises and equipment are being maintained to an acceptable level

This information is available in Council Guide to the operation of a food business.

Food Sampling

As well as undertaking regular inspections of food premises, EHOs take food samples for analysis in a laboratory. The samples are analysed to make sure that they comply with strict chemical and bacteriological standards as documented in the Australian Food Standards Code. Some of the food products that have recently been tested include:

  • Mince - tested for the presence of sulphur dioxide
  • Vegetarian pies and pasties - tested for the presence of food poisoning bacteria
  • Crumbed raw meat - tested for bacteria indicating the age of the product
  • Meat pies - tested for meat composition
  • Bain marie food (pastas and gravy) - tested for the presence of food poisoning bacteria
  • Sausages - tested for fat content and meat specification
  • BBQ chicken - tested for food poisoning bacteria
  • Souvlaki - tested for the presence of food poisoning bacteria
  • Rice - for the presence of bacteria
  • Taking swabs from utensils

A Council Environmental Health Officer will purchase the food product, just as it would be provided to the consumer.  As it is as informal sampling program, Council does not always advise the premises at the time of purchase.  On occasions, formal sampling is undertaken.  In these cases, the food business is notified in writing at the time of sampling.

Thinking of starting a new food business?

Any person considering the development or purchase of a food business in Kingborough should contact Council's Environmental Health Department. EHOs from the Council are able to do pre-purchase inspections on existing premises. These inspections let the potential new operator know to what degree the existing premises comply with the structural and fit-out requirements of Tasmania's food legislation. This is a good idea because it can give potential purchasers an idea of how much work and monetary investment may be required to bring the premises in line with the requirements of the Food Safety Standards. A pre-purchase inspection report incurs a fee.

For people thinking of building completely new premises it is advisable that you read Council's guide to the construction of a food business. This will provide useful information relating to the structural requirements of food premises.  Talking to an EHO early in the design process can help prevent delays at the approval stage of the development. It may also be necessary to involve Council's Planning, Building and Plumbing Departments (and Southerrn Water).

In Australia it is a requirement that all food businesses that manufacture or sell potentially hazardous food be registered with their local government authority. Heavy financial penalties apply to businesses that operate without being registered and so a registration form must be filled in and returned to the Council, along with the prescribed fee. Please download and complete the food business registration form. Forms need to be submitted at least seven days prior to when the business is due to open.

Labelling

The food legislation in Australia has many requirements for food labelling. These labelling requirements comprehensive. There are a number of information sources available to help people decipher what information is needed on the labels for their products. Information can be sourced form:

  • Food Standards Australia and New Zealand - who have produced a number of user guides to assist people working within the food industry to understand Australia's food labelling requirements. One very helpful feature of this information is a nutritional panel calculator.
  • Kingborough Council - have produced a guide to the labelling of packaged food.
Charity and Community Organisations

It is important to note that charity and community organisations that are involved in the manufacture and sale of food still need to comply with the requirements of Tasmania's food legislation. Charity and community groups that are holding food stalls (including cake stalls, stalls selling jams and preserves, BBQs and sausage sizzles) need to be registered with Council. A registration form needs to be completed and returned to the Council at least two weeks prior to the planned event.

Please note that community events with more than one stall incur an event fee, which is due at the time of submitting your temporary food business application.

An administration fee is applied to ALL applications that are submitted less than 14 days before the event.

Please refer to the relevant fees listed in the fee schedule under the Kingborough tab on the website.

 

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