The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) has released the results of the National Food Handling Benchmark Report on food handling practices in Australian food businesses.
ANZFA’s Managing Director, Ian Lindenmayer, said in a press release that he was pleased that the majority of the food businesses surveyed, including food manufacturers, retailers, schools, hospitals and restaurants, knew about and implemented safe food handling practices.
“Food businesses with a food safety program in place scored better on food safety than those without,” he said: “A food safety program sets out in writing how a business will ensure that the food they sell is safe. With the exception of Victoria, these programs are voluntary at this stage, yet they make a considerable amount of business sense.”
The report did highlight a few problems however and Lindenmayer admitted: “it is disappointing that a small but significant proportion of businesses are not aware of the basics of food safety, such as the need to keep high risk food at the right temperature, to protect food from contamination, to clean and sanitise food preparation equipment properly, and to follow personal hygiene and illness management procedures.”
Particularly, “over 20% of food businesses did not know the correct temperatures for storing chilled food or for holding hot food safely, and a considerable number of food businesses used touch (43%) and/or sight (57%) to check food temperatures”.
Furthermore, “17% of food businesses did not have sufficient hand washing facilities, 7% had no soap or hand cleanser and 14% had no warm running water”.
Overall, 26% of food businesses reported they did not offer staff food safety training.
To reduce the production of unsafe food, the States and
Territories are currently introducing three new national Food Safety Standards, developed by ANZFA, that require businesses to have safe food handling practices, premises and equipment.
The report, compiled by Campbell Research & Consulting, was a benchmark study conducted prior to the implementation of the food safety standards and results of future surveys will provide evidence of whether any improvement has occurred.
To read the full report, visit the ANZFA website (http://www.anzfa.gov.au).