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Managing your Food
Our Environment > Our healthy environment

Managing your food

Catering business

To ensure catering businesses operating from the Holroyd Local Government Area meet all appropriate food safety and hygiene requirements, business operators are required to contact Holroyd City Council and, subject to meeting the relevant criteria, be registered to operate as a food catering business.

The focus of this public health initiative is directed to those businesses wishing to or currently providing catering to weddings, parties, school formals, corporate functions and similar celebrations in halls, gardens, parks, residences, or commercial premises.

These requirements apply to all food catering businesses in Holroyd, including spit roast caterers operating from a butcher's shop or domestic premises, in addition to those operating currently used as a restaurant or café or the like and known to Council.

To meet all the relevant food safety and requirements of the Food Standards Code, and to be subsequently approved by Holroyd City Council to carry out home or corporate catering, a business operator is required to lodge a written application with Holroyd City Council and provide details of the business address of the catering activity and of any development consent. An application will involve an inspection by an authorised Council Officer at a mutually convenient time.

Charities and fundraising

Sausage sizzles and barbecues are a popular way to raise money for charities and community groups. They are often held outdoors to take advantage of Australia’s good weather and open spaces. Provided you take some simple food safety precautions and sell freshly cooked food straight from the barbecue, the food should be safe.

Some tips for preparing and cooking food safely at a sausage sizzle:

  • Finish preparing raw meat before leaving for the site, such as slicing, marinating or skewering.
  • Pack raw meat into insulated boxes with ice for transportation.
  • Handle food with tongs or other equipment.
  • Use separate equipment to handle raw and cooked meats.
  • Hands should not be used to handle food.
  • Hand-washing facilities must be available with warm water, soap and disposable towels provided.
  • Hands must be washed after handling raw meats.
  • Keep cooked meat and salads separate from raw meat at all times to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Cover food to protect it from contamination.
  • Use clean and dry utensils for serving the food – never place cooked meat back on the tray that held raw meat.
  • Cook chicken, sausages and hamburgers until juices run clear- steaks can be cooked to preference.
  • Throw leftover food away unless refrigeration equipment is available to rapidly cool the food.

Disposable utensils

Wherever possible, single use (disposable) utensils such as knives, forks, plates and cups should be used and thrown away after use. These items should be kept covered until required and should be handled carefully to minimise any risk of contamination. Re-usable items such as mugs should not be used unless there are facilities available on-site to wash and sanitise them, or there are enough items for the duration of the event.

Water

Warm water is needed for hand washing or for washing up; a supply adequate to last the event must be provided. The water must be of drinkable quality. If using containers to transport water to the event, make sure that they are clean and have not been used to store chemicals.

Hand-washing facilities

A temporary hand-washing facility must be set up and must provide running water. You can do this by using a large container with a tap at its base or alternatively, you can hire or purchase a generator-operated portable hand-washing tap.

Another container, such as a bucket, should collect the wastewater, in order to keep the site dry and clean.

A supply of soap and paper towels must be provided at the hand-washing facility so that hand washing can be undertaken properly. Supply a bin for used towels. This helps to keep the site tidy and prevent contamination from used towels.

Cleaning and sanitising

Cleaning refers to the removal of visible items such as food particles, dirt, dust and grease and is usually carried out using warm water and detergent.

Sanitising refers to the process which reduces the number of micro-organisms to a safe level and this is usually undertaken using hot water with the use of specific food-grade chemicals.

Sanitising, in the practical context of food premises can be carried out using either:

  • Hot water - This can be achieved with the use of a commercial dishwasher capable of reaching the required temperature appropriate for sanitising.
  • Chemicals - Chemical sanitisers are generally either chlorine-based products, quaternary ammonium compounds or iodine-based compounds. Some sanitisers are toxic and must be rinsed off. The use of chemical sanitisers should be in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications in regard to the dilution rate, contact time and safety precautions as well as safe storage arrangements. This information can be found on the Material Safety Data sheet of the chemical which is used. The articles or items should then be allowed to air-dry.

You should be able to purchase a sanitiser from your chemical supplier, although in case they do not supply it, Council provides a list of suppliers close to Holroyd that do stock these chemicals.

Date marking of food

Certain food products are required to have a date mark on the label. Depending on what type of food it is, the date mark will tell you how fresh the food is and what date it is safe to keep to.

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between a 'best before' and 'use-by' date. The truth is, they are two completely different things.

The official definition as per the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Standard 1.2.5) is:

  • 'Best-before date - the date which signifies the end of the period during which the intact package of food, if stored in accordance with the storage conditions on the package, will remain fully marketable and will retain any specific qualities for which express or implied claims have been made.' To put it simply, if a food item with a best before date is stored correctly, the food should still be good to eat after the expiry of the best-before date and retailers can still legally sell food past its best before date.
  • 'Use-by date - the date which signifies the end of the estimated period, if stored in accordance with any stated storage conditions, after which the intact package of food should not be consumed because of health and safety reasons.' Basically, if a product has passed the use-by date on the label, it is not safe to eat and you could get sick, so throw it away!

Food business registration

All retail food businesses MUST register their business with Holroyd City Council. You can register your business by filling out Council’s Food Registration Form and submitting a copy to Council in person or via email, post or fax.

Register my business with Council

Food recalls

A food recall occurs when food poses an immediate threat to public health and safety and is removed from sale. The food could be recalled because it could contain nasty micro-organisms or foreign matter such as glass, metal or chemicals. Food recalls are usually initiated by the manufacturer or importer and must be reported to State and Commonwealth Government authorities.

A national food recall system has been developed to implement the following:

  • to stop the distribution and sale of food products that pose a potential health risk
  • to inform statutory bodies and/or public of the problem
  • to remove from the marketplace and product that is potentially unsafe.

Wholesale suppliers, manufacturers or importers are responsible for the recall of food products. However retail businesses may need to remove recalled stock from shelves and return it to the manufacturer, wholesaler or importer in which case the businesses must follow specific requirements for holding the stock in a separate clearly identified area.

Food safety surveillance program

Holroyd City Council is committed to the ongoing development of its Food Safety Surveillance Program that aims to minimise the risks associated with the sale and purchase of food to its community.

As part of this program, Council maintains a comprehensive computer database of all premises selling food within the Holroyd LGA.

Each premise is required to pay an annual Administration Fee and is inspected by an authorised Council Officer (an Environmental Health Officer) on a risk assessment basis.

The inspection covers the following areas:

  • Food poisoning incidents;
  • Correct food handling practices;
  • Correct food storage practices;
  • Correct food preparation practices;
  • Cleanliness of premises, equipment and appliances;
  • Temperature control;
  • Personal hygiene;
  • Pest control;
  • Waste control;
  • Food shop fit-out compliance.

The Environmental Health Officer takes the opportunity during the inspection to discuss changes to food-related legislation and offer professional advice and instruction on food-related matters to proprietors of food businesses and their staff.

In the event that a food premise is not being maintained in accordance with the legislative requirements of the Food Act 2003 and Food Regulation 2010, Council’s Officers may initiate action to remedy the situation including, issuing Improvement Notices or Prohibition Orders, Penalty Infringement Notices or instigating prosecution proceedings in the Local Court, where heavy penalties apply.

Cross contamination

Cross contamination occurs when bacteria and viruses are transferred from a contaminated surface to one which is not contaminated. The bacteria and viruses can come from people, work surfaces or equipment, and other foods; for example, when raw foods such as meat or poultry come into contact with cooked ready to eat food. If a consumer eats cooked, ready-to-eat food that has come into contact with raw poultry or meat, the consumer can become very ill.

Hands are the easiest way to transfer bacteria from raw food to ready-to-eat food, but direct contact with raw foods, dirty chopping boards, knives and other ccooking implements can also spread the contamination.

Chopping boards, plates and knives that have been in contact with raw food need to be carefully washed with warm water and food-grade sanitising chemicals, then rinsed and thoroughly dried before being used for ready-to-eat foods.

Raw food, such as meat, poultry or seafood, should be stored in a rigid container at the bottom of the fridge to prevent it coming into contact with ready-to-eat food or allowing meat juices to drip onto other food. Ready-to-eat food should be stored covered in the fridge to further reduce the risks.

Design and construction

If you are looking at getting a new shop fit-out, starting a new food business or if you are just looking at checking whether your shop complies structurally with the Australian Standard, you can find links below to the relevant standards for retail food businesses:

For a new food premise you will need to ensure that the plans you submit along with your Development Application comply with the above mentioned standards.

Food safety supervisor

A Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) is someone who is appointed in each business who has the authority to supervise other people handling food and to ensure that the handling is done safely. To be a FSS, recognised training must be completed.

The FSS requirements apply to businesses processing and selling food at retail level.

These include businesses selling food that is:

  • ready-to-eat; and
  • potentially hazardous (requires temperature control); and
  • NOT sold and served in the suppliers original package.

Businesses need to appoint at least one (1) FSS per premises. Businesses with several premises cannot use the same FSS for all premises. They must nominate a different FSS for each premise.

The business owner must appoint a new FSS within thirty (30) operational days of the original FSS leaving. The business owner must then notify the relevant enforcement agency within seven (7) days of receiving the new certificate.

The NSW Food Authority has produced a Guideline to Food Safety Supervisor Requirements. 

Food safety seminars

Our commitment to food safety is demonstrated by the continued education of local food handlers to minimise the risk of food poisoning in the community. It is our goal to have all food handlers in the Holroyd LGA attend Holroyd City Council’s free Food Handler’s Seminars, held annually at various town centres. The seminar topics mirror those outlined above on what Council’s inspection covers.

All persons attending the Food Handler’s Seminar will receive a Certificate of Attendance signed by the Mayor and General Manager.

Hand washing

Hands must be washed thoroughly with warm water and soap and dried with single-use towels.

Everything you touch can transfer germs onto your hands - especially dirty items, sores, pets, used handkerchiefs and tissues and the things you touch when you go to the toilet.

Getting rid of most germs is simple - wash and dry your hands.

Always wash and dry your hands:

  • before touching or eating food
  • after touching raw meat, or chicken
  • after using the toilet
  • after blowing your nose
  • after playing with a pet

NSW food authority

The NSW Government has established a single agency within the state to oversee, coordinate, and perform an operational role in regard to all aspects of food safety and associated consumer protection.

Contact can be made by the following means:

Temperature control and potentially hazardous foods

Potentially hazardous foods are foods that must be kept at certain temperatures to minimise the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms that may be present in the food or to prevent the formation of toxins in the food.

Potentially hazardous foods include meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products and eggs.

Your fridge should be kept at 5°C or below, to prevent potentially hazardous foods from spoiling. If possible, keep a fridge thermometer in the fridge to check that the temperature stays below 5°C.

Hot food needs to be kept and served at 60°C or above, to prevent potentially hazardous foods from spoiling.

If ready-to-eat potentially hazardous food is kept at a temperature between 5°C and 60°C, the following is recommended:

  • If less than 2 hours = refrigerate or consume immediately
  • If more than 2 hours and less than 4 hours = consume immediately
  • More than 4 hours = throw away.

These handy forms will help you monitor food temperatures:

2 Hour/4 Hour Temperature Log Sheet

Daily Temperature Log Sheet

Temperature of Received Goods Log Sheet

Holroyd City Council now sells digital probe thermometers for a cost of $35.30. To purchase a thermometer please see our customer service staff at Council. Alternatively, you can refer to our list of suppliers for a thermometer.

Staff illness

The Food Standards Code requires an operator to inform staff of specific health and hygiene obligations. It is the responsibility of the operator to ensure that affected staff are excluded from handling unpackaged or ready-to-eat food.

If you are sick with any contagious illness you should not report for work in a food business.

It is suggested that the business develop a written policy for staff illnesses.

As a guide, the following suggested policy or code could be utilised:

  • Staff shall report all illnesses, that have the potential to impact on food safety, to the operator or their supervisor.
  • Food handling staff with symptoms of gastroenteritis-like illnesses such as nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea shall be excluded from handling unpackaged foods.
  • A copy of the relevant health and hygiene responsibilities shall be displayed in a conspicuous location within the business.
  • A staff illness register shall be maintained, which includes the employee’s name, date of absence, the type of illness and the return to work date.
  • A full return to work for a person who has suffered/is suffering from a food borne illness will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, which may involve staff not being allowed to return to food handling activities until a doctor’s certificate is produced indicating that the person is fit to resume food handling activities; or food handlers not returning to work until they are free of symptoms for 48 hours after suffering from vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
  • Information regarding an illness provided to the business operator by a food handler shall not be disclosed to another person without the authorised consent of the food handler, other than to an Authorised Officer of an Enforcement Agency.

Thawing food correctly

Incorrect thawing of high-risk potentially hazardous foods will allow the growth of harmful bacteria. The safety risk further increases if the foods involved are not processed in some way (such as cooking), but rather are consumed as a ready-to-eat item.

Ideally,  frozen foods should be thawed either:

  • in the refrigerator the day before, covered on the lowest shelf, or
  • in the microwave to be cooked immediately.

Remember:

  • Do not thaw food at room temperature.
  • Do not thaw food in a sink full of water.
  • Do not refreeze food after thawing.