Food safety in NSW retail food businesses

fast-food-.jpg The NSW Auditor General, Margaret Crawford, says the NSW Food Authority needs to better monitor its arrangements with councils that inspect retail food businesses on its behalf.

A new report by the Auditor General found the NSW Food Authority need to receive additional and more timely information from councils on compliance with food safety standards.

The Authority provides guidance and training to councils and retail food businesses to improve their
knowledge and compliance with food safety standards. It has also established a standard food safety
inspection checklist and guidelines to encourage consistent inspection practices across the State.

Despite this, the arrangements the Authority has with councils to inspect and monitor around 40,000 retail food businesses do not clearly define roles and responsibilities. Nor is the Authority properly
monitoring the consistency and quality of regulatory activities conducted by councils. Consequently,
there is a risk that food safety inspection and enforcement activities are not applied consistently to
ensure all retail food businesses fully comply with food safety standards, says the report.

The Authority does not validate the data provided by councils on compliance with food safety standards. It reported an annual compliance rate of more than 90 per cent for retail food businesses in each of the last three years.

Other gaps in the Authority’s approach to monitoring councils’ food safety inspection and enforcement
activities include:
• Guidelines for applying the risk-based model are not up-to-date
• Current performance indicators are not sufficient to monitor the consistency and quality of the
regulatory activities
• Networking meetings and training programs organised by the Authority are not always well attended
by councils.

For a full copy of the report, click here.

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