Australia and New Zealand’s red meat sector has joined a long list of food processing sectors that the region’s top food safety watchdog looking to standardise food safety requirements.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the region’s top regulatory body, has called for submissions on a proposed primary production and processing standard for meat.
According to the FSANZ, this proposal is to develop a national food safety standard covering meat and meat products from the major and minor meat species including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, buffalo, camels, alpacas, llamas, deer, horses, donkeys, rabbits, crocodiles, ostrich and emu.
All reasonable measures
Once accepted, the new food code will mandate that a meat producer must take all reasonable measures to ensure that inputs do not adversely affect the safety of meat or meat products. The producer will also have to store, handle and dispose of waste in a manner that will not adversely affect the safety or suitability of meat or meat products.
In addition, a meat producer will have a system to identify the persons from whom animals were received; and to whom animals were supplied.
On the benefits of the new standard, Steve McCutcheon, CEO at the FSANZ, said the proposed standard provides a national “whole-of-chain” approach to food safety regulation of meat products.
McCutcheon added that the standard recognises that existing state and territory laws already cover things such as animal feed and water, traceability and processing activities, and so for the producers, the transition will be seamless.
“What the proposed new standard will do is bring all these things under the one umbrella so that if there is a food incident, regulators will be better placed to investigate food safety matters through the entire meat supply chain,” he said.
“This ability does not exist under current arrangements. Having this ability provides the public and industry with assurance that the regulator can investigate, require action to remedy the situation where appropriate, and evaluate food safety matters at any point in the meat supply chain,” McCutcheon added.
The closing date for submissions is December 3. If the changes are approved by FSANZ and ministers responsible for food regulation, it is anticipated they would come into effect mid-July 2015.