Food safety overview
Safety requirements for food businesses
All permanent and temporary food businesses must obtain approval from Council in order to operate. In most cases, Council must approve a Development Application and issue a Construction Certificate before any work is carried out on a food premises, or before trading begins.
Food safety practices are essential for the health and safety of our community. To minimise the potentially serious impact upon the health and wellbeing of the community, as well as the financial viability of their business, food business operators must ensure that relevant food safety standards and requirements are satisfied at all times. Council's Environmental Health Officers carry out inspections of food businesses and enforce compliance with the requirements and standards.
A large proportion of food-borne illness is caused by poor food handling practices. It is extremely important that all food handlers and supervisors have the appropriate skills and knowledge in food hygiene. It is also important that food premises are maintained in a clean and sanitary condition to minimise potential contamination of food from dirt, grease, bacteria and other substances.
The design, construction and fit-out of food premises is very important in satisfying the relevant standards and ensuring good food-handling practices, health and hygiene.
Food premises include:
- take-away food outlets
- convenience stores
- coffee and cake shops
- commercial kitchens
- hotel bars and bistros
- any other premises used for the sale, storage, preparation or manufacturing of food.
In most cases, Council must approve a Development Application and issue a Construction Certificate before any work is carried out on a food premises, or before trading begins. In some cases, for example, if a retail food business is located in a business zone and satisfies certain requirements, a Complying Development Certificate may be all that Council requires.
All food premises must be designed, constructed and operated in accordance with the following requirements:
- NSW Food Act 2003
- NSW Food Regulation 2010
- Australia & New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) Food Standards Code
- Australian Standard AS4674 - Design, Construction and Fit Out of Food Premises
- Building Code of Australia
- Council's Conditions of consent for Food Premises
A suitably qualified and experienced architect or designer should be used for the design, construction and fit-out of food premises.
Council has developed a checklist for customers with the intention to fit-out a food premises and outlines the necessary steps for approval including food safety requirements.
Food safety standards
To maintain appropriate levels of public health and safety in our community, all permanent and temporary food premises must satisfy the food safety requirements and standards at all times.
For detailed information, please refer to the information, standards and fact sheets provided by Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the NSW Food Authority.
Fact Sheets and Guidelines are available on the NSW Food Authority website, in a range of languages other than English.
Food business requirements
All food businesses must satisfy the following key food safety requirements and procedures at all times:
1. Approval requirements
The relevant approvals must be obtained from Council prior to commencing the operation and use of any food business.
2. Food premises fit-out
Food premises must be designed and constructed in accordance with specific standards and requirements to facilitate cleaning, good food-handling practices, health and hygiene and to minimise potential contamination and food-borne illnesses.
3. Food handlers: skills and knowledge
All food handlers must have the necessary skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene.
The operator or manager of the business must have high-level skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene and they must ensure that all staff have sufficient knowledge and skills in food safety.
Council recommends that all food handlers undertake formal training in food safety and food hygiene, such as relevant TAFE or food/catering college training course.
4. Food handling practices and controls
The operator or manager of the business and all food handlers must ensure that food products are handled in a safe and controlled manner, from transportation, receipt, storage, processing, display, service and disposal.
Incorrect or sloppy food-handling practices significantly increase the risk of food becoming contaminated and causing potentially serious food poisoning incidents.
Food must be stored, located, prepared, displayed and handled in a way that does not increase the risk of contamination or the growth of bacteria and toxins.
Standard 3.2.2 of the Food Standards Code contains detailed requirements and procedures for food handling.
5. Temperature control
To minimise the risk of food spoilage, food poisoning and the growth of bacteria or toxins, it is essential that potentially hazardous food is kept under appropriate temperature control.
Potentially hazardous food includes:
- raw and cooked meat or poultry, or foods containing meat or poultry, e.g. casseroles, curries, meat pies, sausage rolls, kebabs, lasagne, spaghetti bolognese
- dairy products, e.g. milk, custard, cream, dairy based desserts
- seafood, e.g. fish, prawns, lobsters, oysters, calamari, shellfish
- processed fruits and vegetables, e.g. salads
- cooked rice, pasta and pasta salads
- foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein rich foods, e.g. quiche, soy products
- foods that contain these foods, e.g.sandwiches and rolls.
Potentially hazardous food must be maintained:
- at or below 5°C (i.e. in a refrigerator or freezer), or
- at or above 60°C (i.e. in a heated display cabinet).
Potentially hazardous food should be cooled from 60°C to 5°C and be refrigerated as soon as practicable (generally within 2 to 4 hours).
All refrigerators, freezers and heated food display cabinets must have an accurate thermometer located within the appliance, which is readily visible, to ensure that food is maintained within the appropriate temperature range (e.g. digital-probe type thermometer).
Standard 3.2.2 of the Food Standards Code details the specific requirements for keeping potentially hazardous food at appropriate temperatures.
6. Prevention of contamination
Food business operators must ensure that all practicable measures are taken to protect food from the likelihood of contamination.
Food contamination can be caused by a number of inappropriate practices and controls, including:
- inappropriate temperature control
- inappropriate thawing and re-heating practices
- vermin and pests (e.g. mice, rats, flies, cockroaches, birds, insects)
- unclean equipment, appliances, utensils and surfaces
- unclean hands, clothing and footwear
- cross contamination of food, between raw food and cooked/ready to eat food
- incorrect or poor food-handling practices (e.g. from touching cooked/ready-to-eat food without gloves)
- contamination from customers (e.g. handling or sneezing upon the food)
- poor transportation and storage practices
- poor cleaning and person hygiene practices
- inappropriate or insufficient waste disposal facilities
- other physical and chemical contamination
- Raw foods (e.g. meat, chicken, seafood) must be stored, prepared and processed separately or away from ready-to-eat cooked food to prevent possible cross contamination of food.
Standard 3.2.2 of the Food Standards Code contains further details and requirements to prevent contamination of food.
7. Cleaning and sanitising
It is essential that food premises are kept in a clean condition at all times including all walls, floors, ceilings, shelving, windows, cooking equipment, ventilation equipment, fridges, appliances, cupboards, utensils, crockery, cutlery, furniture and fittings.
The most effective and efficient way of keeping the premises clean and hygienic is to develop and implement an ongoing cleaning program.
The cleaning program should identify who, what, when and how the particular area or items will be cleaned.
To ensure that surfaces, equipment and utensils etc are thoroughly cleaned and sanitised, it is recommended that specific commercial 'cleaning and sanitising' products be used from a commercial kitchen, catering or cleaning supplier, in accordance with the manufacturers directions.
8. Health and hygiene
Everyone is a potential carrier of bacteria and bacteria can easily be transferred from someone's hands, clothing and utensils or other articles to the food, or to the surfaces of food preparation areas or utensils.
All staff must wash their hands regularly (with warm water and hand cleanser), especially:
- before starting work
- before starting work after a break
- after handling money and before handling food
- after handling dirty dishes, glasses or utensils
- after doing any cleaning
- after using the toilet
- after smoking
- before handling cooked food - after handling raw food
- after handling rubbish or other waste
- after touching their hair, mouth, nose or any other body part.
It is also important that food handlers minimise potential contamination of food. For example, by wearing gloves or using tongs to avoid touching ready-to-eat or cooked food, and by wearing clean clothing and footwear.
9. Food storage and waste disposal
Food products must be stored in an appropriate location, in a suitable container and at a controlled temperature, to prevent potential contamination and growth of bacteria.
Potentially hazardous food should be stored in appropriate plastic containers with lids, to reduce the risk of contamination from other food (e.g. to separate raw food and cooked or ready-to-eat food), and from food handling, dirt, dust and other physical and chemical contaminants.
To minimise the growth of bacteria:
- keep the food cold (below 5°C)
- keep the food hot (above 60°C)
- always re-heat and cool food quickly.
To reduce the risk of contamination, all food premises must also have sufficient and appropriate waste disposal facilities and receptacles.
Waste bins must be provided with lids and be located in a suitable area, so as not to potentially contaminate any food, other surfaces or equipment.
Food storage and waste storage areas must be kept in a clean and sanitary condition, free from vermin, flies, cockroaches and other pests.
Food businesses must arrange for their waste materials and recycling to be collected and disposed of by an approved trade/commercial waste contractor (Council's Trade Waste Service or a private licensed contractor).
10. Temporary food premises, stalls and vendors
All food premises, including temporary food operators, community service groups and charities are required to meet the relevant requirements of the Food Act 2003 and the Food Standards Code.
Although an event or activity may be of a temporary nature, the potential risks of food-borne illness and food poisoning are the same as for any permanent food premises.
Trans fats and our community
Randwick City Council has resolved to develop and implement education and awareness strategies to discourage the use of hydrogenated oils (Trans Fats) in the preparation of food, as trans fats have a detrimental effect on the health of the community.
Randwick City Council has developed an information sheet, Trans Fats & Your Food Business, to provide information on trans fats to food business operators within Randwick. Council's Environmental Health Officers will also provide information on the use of hydrogenated oil to food business operators in its Food Safety Handling Workshops and when carrying out food premises inspections.
Compliance and enforcement
Council's Environmental Health Officers will enforce compliance with relevant requirements and standards.
In relation to very minor breaches and improvements, Council will generally allow reasonable time for the owner to rectify the particular matter or improve the construction of the premises. However, if the breach is of a potentially significant nature or the condition of the premises is considered unsafe or unhealthy, Council may issue a penalty infringement notice (fine) for each offence. Alternatively, Council may commence legal proceedings in the Local Court which may render the operator liable to a penalty of up to $110,000 for an individual or $550,000 for a corporation.
Council may also issue a Food Improvement Notice and a Prohibition Order which can force the food premises to cease trading and/or require other activities or work to be undertaken.
Details of all penalty infringements and legal proceedings are displayed in a public register by the NSW Food Authority.
Fees and charges
A fee will be charged for the following services and inspections:
- inspection fee (invoiced after a Council inspection)
- temporary food stalls and vendors application and registration fee
- mobile vendors application and registration fee
- re-inspection fee (to follow up on unsatisfactory matters and requirements)
- improvement notice fee
- debt-recovery fees and charges.
After the inspection, Council will send an invoice which must be paid within a set period. The fee is set out in Council's fees and charges.