Fast food

by David Stout, NRA Policy & Industry Engagement

At the NRA we are committed to ensuring that we are proactively seeking to have an intimate understanding of issues, such as food safety, in order to best advise our members throughout Australia.

The Retail and Food Service Industry Group regularly hold information sessions to provide retailers with an insight into the effectiveness of current policy, as well as the direction of future initiatives. I recently attended the Retail and Food Service Information Session in Parramatta on 6 April and found it very interesting and informative.

I won’t go into all of the detail that was covered at the session (see links below) but a few presentations really stood out as highly relevant and topical for retailers and fast food outlets.

New South Wales currently has a lower rate of foodborne illness than the national average.

According to the NSW Auditor-General, this is a direct result of good practices in the Authority’s risk-based approach and local councils’ ensuring that retail food outlets comply with the relevant food safety standards. Moreover, 95 per cent of retail food businesses in NSW are compliant with the regulation, suggesting there is a strong correlation between compliant businesses and high levels of food safety standards.

There was substantial emphasis placed on the role of Food Safety Supervisors in retail outlets which serve ready-to-eat food or potentially hazardous food that is not pre-packaged. Food Safety Supervisors (FSS) are required to retrain every 5 years in NSW and heavy penalties exist for not appointing an FSS per premises and failing to display a certificate upon request.

If your business needs to address its food safety concerns, I highly recommend the NRA’s new online Food Safety Supervisor course which is cheaper than most options in the market but fully-qualified for use across Australia including NSW.

Food labelling was also a feature of discussion with presentations covering the rules and regulations that retail food outlets have to adhere to. It is vital that all retailers have a thorough understanding of what information needs to be contained on a food label, as well as which food products are exempt from labelling. The Department’s factsheet on food labelling can be found here. and the new food labelling hub can be found here. There was also emphasis placed on responsible marketing and how to avoid legal action on misleading claims regarding health and miracle results (see page 34-44 of this presentation).

The Scores on Doors program was also covered and, should there be enough public education, the program should help compliant businesses turn their high standards into increased revenue.

If your business serves food and operates in NSW, I highly recommend reading the presentations and factsheets provided here: