New Egg Safety Programme Launched in NSW

NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA - A 'paddock to plate' approach to egg food safety programmes is being adopted in the state.
calendar icon 23 May 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald last week refers to the rising number of egg-related Salmonella outbreaks in Australia between 2001 and 2008. The article raises some important points regarding food safety and such information is welcomed and supported by the state's food safety regulator, the NSW Food Authority.

However it has failed to make mention of the comprehensive through-chain approach to egg food safety employed by the NSW Food Authority, its CEO, Alan Coutts, said on 18 May.

He said: "Eggs are a popular and nutritious food and one of the most commonly used and consumed items in many Australians' diets. Eggs are a raw product and just like all fresh perishable food, they need careful handling to ensure they are safe. Food that is not properly handled, including eggs, can make people ill.

"In recognition of the risks associated with certain foods the NSW Food Authority has developed a number of industry sector requirements including one specific to the egg industry.

"The Authority operates with an integrated approach to improving understanding and safety of raw eggs and raw egg products right across the food chain, from farm to retail.

"While bacteria can be present at the farm as a result of normally occurring contaminants including dirt, chicken faeces and feathers, most eggs sold in NSW are clean and free from harmful bacteria. However sometimes there can still be traces of harmful bacteria including Salmonella. This is why careful food handling, storage and preparation are important," Mr Coutts said.

He said the Authority has three concurrent initiatives in the area of egg food safety: "First is the recent introduction of the Food Safety Supervisor which targets the improvement of food safety knowledge and practices amongst retail food handlers and food service professionals.

"Second, to complement work being done at a retail level, the NSW Food Authority introduced a new regulation focussed on the production end of the industry.

"Whilst a national egg food safety standard is still being finalised, NSW is ahead of the game having introduced the NSW Egg Food Safety Scheme in June 2010.

"The requirements of this scheme are designed to reduce the incidence of salmonella on farm through the implementation of a food safety program for egg producers and processors.

"Businesses covered by the scheme, including on farm producers, will be audited on a regular basis.

"Third, the Authority continues to work with its local government partners, under the NSW Food Regulation Partnership," he added

An example of that work is the recent survey by Sydney City Council (SCC), done in conjunction with the NSW Food Authority, which sampled 107 raw egg dressings available for sale from 46 food-service premises in the Sydney City local government area.

The survey shows the efforts of the Food Regulation Partnership are working, as 87 per cent of samples gathered during the survey were classified as good or acceptable and the Council continues to educate businesses on improved food handling practices.

The report and a new fact sheet, Safe handling of raw egg products, is available by clicking here.

The Authority is applying these learnings across NSW and is currently working with a number of NSW councils on similar programmes.

Further information about egg safety can be found at Enjoy eggs safely.

Requirements for industry are also listed on-line [click here].

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