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Queensland Seafood Sets the Standard

Food safety & handling Politics +2 more

AUSTRALIA - Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland Tim Mulherin has announced a new food safety scheme to minimise the safety risks associated with seafood.

“The new scheme will implement the National Standard for Primary Production and Processing of Seafood,” the Minister said.

“Food safety is of critical importance to consumers and industries that depend on a good reputation to provide safe food to satisfy domestic and export markets.

“Under the new standard businesses will have to make sure the production of seafood is safe from the trawler to the dinner plate.

“They will have to identify and minimise risks that could compromise the safety of seafood, like simple basic hygiene and most businesses will already be doing this.

“For example, preventing seafood from falling onto the floor during processing, ensuring seafood is kept on ice or refrigerated prior to sale or staff regularly washing their hands.

In announcing the new scheme, the Minister said Queensland is the first State to fully adopt the national seafood standard into regulation, which will come into affect from 1 July 2009.

“Queensland will again be leading the way in the implementation of nationally agreed food safety requirements in Australia, which is good news for consumers and the food industry,” he said.

“Adopting this scheme will help to maintain and enhance consumer confidence that Queensland seafood is a high quality, safe product.

“The new national seafood standard covers all areas of seafood production and processing but does not extend to retail activities such as fish and chip shops.”

Mr Mulherin said Safe Food Production Queensland ( SFPQ ), the statutory body under his portfolio has responsibility for implementing the new seafood food safety scheme, which was developed collaboratively with industry.

“SFPQ already has responsibility for administering food production safety arrangements for meat, dairy and eggs and it will now be responsible for administering the food safety arrangements for seafood,” he said.

“The provisions of the Scheme will cover commercial fishing operations, aquaculture, land-based processors and the oyster industry.

“Businesses will need to be accredited in the one of the categories of wild harvester, producer or processor.

“The Scheme provides industry with guidelines to achieve expected food safety outcomes and many businesses will already be able to demonstrate these outcomes from existing QA arrangements.

Mr Mulherin said new monitoring provisions have been incorporated into Queensland law to alleviate compliance costs associated with audits.

“SFPQ is introducing a new electronic data management system whereby businesses can demonstrate compliance online,” he said.

“To encourage uptake of the scheme, there will be no accreditation fees from 1 July 2009 to 1 January 2010.

“I encourage seafood businesses to take advantage of the relaxation in fees and make sure they contact SFPQ and get accredited early.

Mr Mulherin said that Safe Food Production Queensland would continue to work with seafood stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to the new Food Safety Scheme.