Food businesses which rate poorly on Byron Shire Council’s food safety inspections may find themselves listed on the NSW Food Authority’s ‘name and shame’ website.
Byron Shire Council’s Environmental Health Officer, Jon Rushforth, said that while council was satisfied with the standard of food premises in Byron Shire, food businesses must be aware that records of inspections may be scrutinised by the media and members of the public.
“All regular food premise inspections are reported to the NSW Food Authority, and poor performers may be identified through this process. However, tourists and residents can be confident of the high standards being maintained within our local food industry,” he said.
The NSW Food Authority’s ‘name and shame’ website of food law breaches has received considerable interest from consumers, with the Food Authority advising that there were over 25,000 hits on the website in just over a three-week period.
Recent amendments to the Food Act now allow for disclosure of information about offences under the Food Act.
Penalty Notices issued by the Food Authority and councils for breaches of food safety are now subject to new publication requirements and may be recorded on a public register available on the Food Authority website (www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au).
Under the partnership options, Byron Shire Council elected to carry out the ‘Category B’ level of service. The role means that the council is responsible for regulating retail food businesses in the Byron Shire.
The Food Authority is now responsible for regulating high-risk ‘licensed’ food businesses (butchers, seafood co-ops, hospitals, aged care facilities etc), food transport vehicles and manufacturers and wholesalers.
The partnership officially commenced on 1 July 2008 and included a compulsory, defined role for councils regarding food safety regulation, with full cost recovery options.
The partnership also included some innovative legal changes such as the ‘Name and Shame’ register of Penalty Notices issued under the Food Act.
Mr Rushforth said it has been estimated that food-borne illness attributed to the retail sector costs in NSW around $760 million each year.
The NSW Food Authority and councils have been working together in recent years to form a co-regulatory partnership to ultimately reduce the incidence of food-borne illness.