The collection of this data will support the Australian Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy, in addition to enabling a national/international profile of the microorganisms of public health significance and their possible sources.
Food and water will include raw, partly processed and ready-to-eat foods. It may also include live plants and animals and also captures bottled water and ice.
For most businesses that conduct food and water testing, these Regulations will not impact normal operations. Notifications will be handled on a case by case basis and where a business can demonstrate that there is no risk to public health, then no further action other than confirmation that adequate controls are in place will be required. SA Health understands that these are ‘business as usual’ issues experienced by food manufactures and processors and examples of this may include:
Raw ingredients that will be further processed
Work in progress
New product development where the product has not been released for sale
Product that is subject to test and hold procedures
Action may be required where notifiable contaminants are found in products that are in the marketplace. It is already a requirement of food businesses such as manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, to conduct an assessment as to whether a product should be recalled or withdrawn when a micro-organism as per Standard 1.6.1, Schedule 27 is found. SA Health will assist with this decision making process to ensure public health is protected.
The notification process and actions
The details of each notification will be individually reviewed by SA Health, Food and Controlled Drugs Branch and an initial risk assessment will be conducted with information supplied by the business. The response (if any) taken by SA Health will be determined based on risk, and actions will only be taken when there is a potential public health risk.
SA Health or the relevant local council may take graduated and proportionate enforcement actions if a business is does not comply with requests for information or other directions as given by an authorised officer.
Where the sample is provided from a business that is regulated by another authority or agency, details of the positive result will be shared with that authority and any follow up actions (if required) will be conducted in conjunction with them. Any actions taken with respect to a food service business will also be conducted in conjunction with authorised officers from the relevant local council. Refer to Figure 1
Reporting notifiable contaminants
The testing laboratory is responsible for notifying SA Health of a confirmed notifiable contaminant. The process for notifying SA Health is set out in the South Australian Public Health Act 2011.
If a food business has reason to believe that the testing laboratory has not notified SA Health of positive samples, it has a responsibility to notify SA Health. This may occur if the testing has been conducted interstate (note interstate laboratories may already have a policy to contact the home jurisdiction due to the requirement to report notifiable contaminants in that State). This should occur within 24 hours of receiving the notification by contacting SA Health’s Food and Controlled Drugs Branch.
Preliminary results / presumptive results will not need to be notified, except when associated with an active investigation or at the express request of SA Health.
Positive results which have been detected for the purposes of academic research or for education purposes (unless these results indicate a material risk to public health) are further excluded from the need to notify.
The presence of the following contaminants must be notified to SA Health:
NOTE: any changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, Schedule 27 or the Compendium of Microbiological Criteria for Food may result in changes to the notifiable contaminants either with regard to the defined contaminants or the limits of detection that require notification.
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