Targeted action dishes up food safety results
Three Sydney noodle manufacturing businesses have been collectively fined more than $150,000 in relation to various food safety and hygiene failures under the Food Act 2003 and the Food Standards Code following a targeted project by the NSW Food Authority designed to address a high-risk food sector where compliance was less than satisfactory.
The "Fresh Noodle Manufacturers Project" was designed to improve standards in the fresh noodle industry after the Food Authority became aware of compliance issues within the sector.
Over a period of four months NSW Food Authority officers conducted 25 inspections where they considered the use of preservatives, process and hygiene control, product labelling and temperature control.
The resulting enforcement activity included three prosecutions where one company was fined $11,000 and its director fined $2,800, a second company was fined $27,000 and the most recent result saw a Sydney manufacturer plead guilty to 19 charges and fined $113,000.
Dr Lisa Szabo, NSW Food Authority CEO, said while the wider community may not recognise noodles as a high-risk food, the intrinsic properties of fresh noodles mean that if they’re not kept within careful temperature control they become a breeding ground for the growth of microorganisms that can cause food poisoning.
"The NSW Food Authority is committed to ensuring people buying and eating food in NSW can do so with confidence and certainty that what they’re eating is safe," Dr Szabo said.
"We target our efforts of investigation and risk management to where they are most needed in order to best protect the public and also reduce regulatory burden on those industry sectors who have a proven record of doing the right thing."
The NSW Government’s Food Safety Strategy 2015-2021 has a goal of reducing foodborne illness by 30% by 2021 and a compliance target of 95% for all food businesses with food safety requirements.
"Specialised projects like this are helping to achieve that goal," Dr Szabo said.
"There were numerous barriers to compliance that we identified including language barriers and traditional practices by certain cultural groups.
"I am pleased to note that following this particular project there was a significant increase in compliance, with an overall compliance rate of 96% for this sector – exceeding the target.
"Where a problem is significant enough prosecution is an appropriate enforcement action but education really is the most effective compliance tool, by properly educating people we actually change the culture of practice and that helps ensure ongoing compliance."
Further information about food safety breaches in NSW can be found on the NSW Food Authority’s Name and Shame register at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/offences