The Produce Marketing Association of Australia and New Zealand proposed a single framework for food safety certification, which could replace several standards and guidelines.
The PMA has floated the system in an effort to reduce costs for food wholesalers, retailers and producers, amongst other industry members. For food safety supervisors, the streamlined guidelines would mean an easier way to execute their jobs. It makes more sense to simplify regulations to help them perform better at their duties.
However, PMA technology manager Richard Bennett admitted that Australia’s retail sector has customised rules and regulatory frameworks, which can be a challenge in terms of finding common ground on food safety standards.
Bennett said that the proposed unified framework would have been introduced in October after three years of development. The agenda aims to act as a substitute for Australia’s major export and food retailers’ quality assurance systems between 2016 and 2018.
In terms of cost savings, the single system would reduce work on duplication in both documentation and official audits, which can take up a significant amount of expenses.
Five major Australian retailers have already agreed to the unified system, due to its adoption of global standards on food safety, according to Bennett. Three of the top-notch food safety certifiers have also embraced the proposal.
By region, the Australian Capital Territory has achieved an improved level of food safety. This became evident in 2015 when the ACT’s Health Protection Service closed only four restaurants based on an immediate risk to public health.
That’s significantly lower than the number in 2014, with over 12 restaurants shut down due to the same reason.
The singular framework appears to be a viable objective, despite the existence of numerous standards. As the country is best known for its strict quality measures, it will further uplift the status of food safety in Australia.