Hospitality operators have less than six weeks to bring their food safety requirements up to date, with the new obligations coming into effect on 8 December 2023.
According to Standard 3.2.2A, businesses that process unpackaged, potentially hazardous food, and serve it ready-to-eat are required to have a qualified onsite food safety supervisor (FSS), ensure that all food handlers are trained in food safety and hygiene, and be able to prove that food is safe.
The updated requirements will strengthen food safety requirements and support public health and safety, explained Dr Sandra Cuthbert, CEO of Food Safety Australia New Zealand.
“The key changes to the standard are the requirements for training for food handlers and supervisors and substantiating key actions at critical points known to manage food safety risks,” Cuthbert said.
Becoming a certified FSS requires undertaking training through an approved training organisation that delivers the state or territory’s FSS training course. Other food handlers are required to undertake training about, and prove their understanding of, safe handling of food, food contamination, cleaning and sanitising of food premises and equipment, and personal hygiene.
Allara Global CEO Andrew Lewis emphasised the importance of implementing this training, as failure to comply with the new regulations can result in fines.
“We want to remind managers and operators of restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels, that time is running out to provide training to staff. It’s vital food handlers are equipped with up-to-date information and the essential skills for food safety and hygiene,” Lewis said.
“Now is the time to educate staff to make sure they are fully compliant before 8 December and are ready and raring to go ahead of what will be a busy Christmas period in hospitality,” he added.
Additionally, businesses are required to maintain records evidencing safe food handling, which must be retained for at least three months. Alternatively, businesses may be able to prove their food safety management by demonstrating safe food management procedures or staff training to an authorised officer such as a food regulator.
“I am pleased federal, state and territory governments are taking a joint approach to improving food safety standards across Australia and appreciate food businesses’ cooperation in ensuring consumers continue to have high confidence in the safety practices of the food service and retail sector,” Cuthbert concluded.