The estimated annual cost of food poisoning in Australia is $1.25 billion. NSW and the public health system bear roughly one-third of these costs.
The key contributing factors to food poisoning outbreaks include:
- Inappropriate storage - food stored too long or too warm (29.0%)
- Food handler’s contamination due to poor hygiene (14.5%)
- Inadequate cooking or reheating (14.1%)
- Cross-contamination (14.1%)
- Foods from an unsafe source (14.1%)
- Other sources (14.2%)
Inspections of retail food businesses are undertaken by Council’s Environmental Health Officer to ensure that they comply with their legislative requirements relating to food safety and food hygiene matters. Some of the areas checked and assessed during food inspections include:
- Temperature control;
- Cleanliness of premises;
- Personal hygiene;
- Storage of food;
- Pest control measures ;and
- General construction of the premises.
Food Safety Legislation
Food Safety laws in New South Wales include the Food Act 2003, the Food Regulation 2015 and the Food Standards Code which incorporates the Food Safety Standards.
The aim of these laws is:
- To ensure that safe and suitable food is provided to consumers.
- To reduce the level of food-borne illness in Australia.
- To provide more effective food safety regulations.
- To provide nationally uniform food safety standards across all States, and
- To give food businesses more flexibility provided that food safety is not compromised.
The above applies to all food businesses who sell food intended for human consumption. Food for sale can include any packaged food and drinks to prepared meals. Businesses that only sell packaged food and do not prepare food on the premises are not exempt from conforming to the requirements.
Food Safety Enforcement
Inner West Council enforces Food Safety laws under the Food Act 2003, by issuing:
- Penalty Infringement Notices (On-the-spot fines);
- Improvement Notices;
- Prohibition Orders; and/or
- Commencing prosecution proceedings in the local court.
Breaches against the act can include:
- Unclean premises;
- Incorrect food handling practices;
- Inadequate storage of food;
- Temperature control;
- Personal hygiene; and
- Inadequate pest control and fit-out requirements of premises.
From May 2008, penalty infringement notices have been published on the NSW Food Authority's website to give consumers more information to make decisions about where they eat or buy food. The 'Name and Shame' register as it more commonly known, publishes a list of businesses that have breached or are alleged to have breached NSW food safety laws. For further information and to view the 'Name and Shame' register please visit the NSW Food Authority website at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/penalty-notices/
Food Safety Supervisors
In New South Wales certain food businesses are required to nominate a designated food safety supervisor (FSS) who has received accredited training in safe food handling.
The food safety supervisor requirement applies to businesses serving food that is:
- ready to eat
- potentially hazardous, and
- not sold or served in its original packaging.
Examples of businesses that may require a FSS include restaurants, cafes, take away shops, bakeries, caterers, mobile food vans, temporary food stalls, pubs, clubs and hotels.
Who will be providing the training?
To become a food safety supervisor, there are certain units of competency which an individual must complete. These must be provided by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that has been approved by the NSW Food Authority.
Approved RTOs are published on the NSW Food Authority's website.
When a person successfully completes the units of competency, the RTO will then issue that person with a FSS Certificate. A FSS Certificate provides a consistent form of documentation to enable Council's Environmental Health Officers to easily identify the FSS.
The FSS Certificate states a person is qualified to be a food safety supervisor and has been issued by an approved RTO. The certificate is valid for five years from the date of issue.
It is a legal requirement that all businesses keep a copy of their FSS Certificate in their food premises and can produce it for inspection upon request.
Food Enquiries and Complaints
Council investigates single case food safety complaints relating to cleanliness of a premises, temperature control, poor food handling practices etc.
Council's Environmental Health Officers are available to answer any enquiries and/or take complaints related to food safety.
To make an enquiry or to lodge a complaint, you can contact Council on 9392 5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
However, it should be noted that food poisoning complaints relating to more than one (1) person should be directed to the NSW Food Authority. The NSW Food Authority can be contacted by:-
Food Handler Seminars
The Food Act (NSW) 2003 requires that food businesses must ensure that all food handlers who engage in the handling of food have adequate skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene matters.
To assist businesses in ensuring that all food handlers who engage in handling of food have adequate skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene, Council runs a number of free food handling seminars which are offered to local retail food businesses and their employees.
Dates for Seminars
There are currently no seminars scheduled. Check the website for new dates here.
Guidelines for Food Businesses at Temporary Events
Guidelines for food businesses at temporary events have been developed by the NSW Food Authority and can be viewed at the NSW Food Authority website