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Game meat processing plants

Game meat processing plants are premises that process, package, store or otherwise handle game meat for human consumption.

This means any premises where unflayed carcases of game animals are received from the field or a game meat field depot and then flayed, regardless of whether carcases are further treated, boned or cut up on those premises.

Game meat is meat intended for human consumption from vertebrate animals (except fish) which are not husbanded like farmed animals and are legally slaughtered in a wild state.

This includes raw meat and the production of ready-to-eat (RTE) and uncooked comminuted fermented meat (UCFM) products such as salami, beef jerky and biltong.
 

Licensing, registration

Operators of game meat processing plants are required to:

  1. apply for a Food Authority licence online (or download a form, print and post it) 
  2. meet food standards
  3. for UCFM: return a completed pro forma with your application
  4. prepare for and be routinely inspected or audited.

Before issuing a licence, the Food Authority will carry out an inspection of the premises to ensure all buildings and equipment meet the requirements of the relevant standards.

For more see licensing

Skills & knowledge

There are no formal qualifications required however each food handler or person in control of a food business is required to have food safety skills and knowledge appropriate to their food handling activities.

For a guide see FSANZ Safe Food Australia Division 2.

Requirements are set out in the Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, clause 3.

Operators need to document and provide training of staff which is appropriate to the operations undertaken.

Construction & facilities

Construction and layout of a food premise must be designed to minimise the opportunity for food contamination.

Game meat processors must ensure that their food premises, fixtures, fittings, equipment and transport vehicles are designed and constructed in a manner that means they can be easily cleaned and, where necessary, sanitised.

See FSANZ Safe Food Australia for a guide.

Businesses must also ensure that the premises are provided with the necessary services of water, waste disposal, light, ventilation, cleaning and personal hygiene facilities, storage space and access to toilets.

Full requirements are set out in:

Hygiene & handling

Operators need to ensure premises and equipment are clean before processing starts each day, and at the end of each shift each day.

A food handler must take all reasonable measures not to handle food or surfaces likely to come into contact with food in a way that is likely to compromise the safety and suitability of food.

Food businesses must ensure there are adequate facilities for food handlers to wash their hands. Hand wash facilities must be only used for washing hands, arms and face and should include warm running water, soap (or soap alternative) and single-use hand towel.

If a food handler believes they could have or be a carrier of a foodborne illness they must advise their supervisor and ensure they do not handle food that they could contaminate as a result of the disease.

Food handlers must ensure all food contact surfaces are kept clean and adequately protected from contamination.

Full requirements are set out in:

For more see factsheets:

Labelling

Field chillers labelling requirements

The NSW Food Authority and NSW Environment and Heritage require that all game meat carcases are labelled with a numbered harvester tag, as outlined in the Wild Game Meat Field Harvester Food Safety Program.

Labels must contain:

  • the shooter’s name
  • the shooter’s licence number
  • location of the field depot
  • date that the animal was shot .

If this information is not provided on all labels, the carcases may be seized and enforcement action taken against the harvester or licensed operator of the field depot.

Carcases without labels are not to be processed for human consumption.

Meat branding

Operators need to ensure game meat is not removed from the processing plant until the carcase or part of the carcase has been branded under authority of a meat safety inspector with a brand issued by the Food Authority. This does not apply to meat from game birds, meat fit only for animal food and meat not fit for animal food.

Required brands are set out in Division 4 of the Meat Food Safety Scheme and Schedule 7 of the Food Regulation 2010.

Game animals slaughtered for export under the Export Control Act 1982 (Cth) need to be marked with an official mark under that Act.

Other labelling

Other requirements for labelling of product apply, as set out in Food Standards Code, Chapter 1, Part 1.2 - Labelling and other Information Requirements and the FSANZ labelling user guides.

For an introduction and factsheets see labelling.

Export

The Department of Agriculture provides export controls and assistance regarding exporting goods from Australia.

Game meat businesses that wish to export their product overseas can find information from the Australian Department of Agriculture.

Businesses producing wild game meat also need to comply AQIS Meat Notice Number: 2009/18, Additional Requirements for Wild Game Meat Processing for Export.

Food safety controls

Food Safety Program

Game meat processing plants must develop and implement a documented food safety program, compliant with Australian Standard AS 4464–2007, Hygienic production of wild game meat for human consumption.

Businesses can use the Food Authority template Wild Game Meat Field Harvester Food Safety Program and adapt it to meet their requirements.

For more information see food safety programs.

Meat Safety Inspector

Game meat processing plants must not operate unless a meat safety inspector has been appointed and approved in writing by the Food Authority.

Testing

There are post mortem observation and inspection procedures specified for game animals generally, and for macropods, wild boar, wild goat, wild possum, deer, rabbit and hare, and wild game birds.

Requirements are set out in Australian Standard AS 4464–2007, Hygienic production of wild game meat for human consumption.

Ready-to-eat product (RTE)
Uncooked comminuted fermented meat (UCFM)

Licensed meat processing plants that produce ready-to-eat (RTE) or uncooked comminuted fermented meat (UCFM) products must comply with the requirements set out in the NSW Food Safety Schemes Manual.

The Manual specifies microbiological testing requirements for E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella to confirm that processing is hygienic and sanitary and meeting the standard.

Importantly, you should know that:

  • Testing must involve the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) or a laboratory approved by the Food Authority
  • Any analysis is at the licence holder’s expense
  • If a sample does not meet the standards set out in the Manual, the licence holder must notify the Food Authority -
    • within 24 hours by phone, and
    • within 7 days in writing.

Sampling & analysis

The Food Standards Code also lists requirements for manufacturing packaged ready-to-eat products.

The Code also prescribes microbiological limits for Listeria monocytogenes in specific products such as cooked and cured/salted meat, packaged heat-treated meat paste and packaged heat-treated pâté.

Meat retail (RTE and UCFM) businesses need to conduct microbiological testing of finished product to verify good manufacturing practice (ie hygiene and sanitation processes) and compliance with the product safety requirements of the Code.

Results must be recorded to improve food safety practices and the testing program should be documented in the meat business food safety program and include:

  • the frequency of testing
  • the product type and batches to be tested
  • corrective action procedures (including handling of affected batches) should there be a positive test for L. monocytogenes.

See also Listeria management program.

Inspections & audits

Game meat processing plants will be routinely audited by the Food Authority for compliance with requirements.

Compliance or regulatory action will be taken if required.

There are fees for audits and inspections, payable by the licence holder.

For more see audits of licensed businesses.

Legislation & standards

Operators of game meat processing plants also need to meet the requirements set out in:

  1. Food Act 2003 (NSW)
  2. Food Regulation 2015, including relevant parts of the Meat Food Safety Scheme
  3. Food Safety Schemes Manual
  4. Food Standards Code, including
    • Food Standards Code 1.3.1 - Food Additives
    • Food Standards Code 3.2.3 - Food Premises and Equipment
    • Food Standards Code 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and general requirements - Premises and Equipment
       
  5. Australian Standard AS 4464–2007, Hygienic production of wild game meat for human consumption
  6. For export: AQIS Meat Notice Number: 2009/18, Additional Requirements for Wild Game Meat Processing for Export.