Know your food handling responsibilities

It came to my attention earlier this week that a local kebab business has been investigated after 4 customers developed a rare bacterial gastroenteritis.  NSW Food Authority officials went to the store and found a number of concerns associated with food handling and preparation.  The business has now been prohibited from trading until further notice.

If you are involved in a food preparation business, it is imperative that you are aware of your legal obligations.

Be proactive and identify the risks before someone gets sick and you are forced to close your doors.

There are a number of things you can do to be proactive:

If you are thinking of starting a food business, check out the strict and specific requirements before you commit to your business idea.

It is not just food handling and preparation that you need to be concerned about – there are also Australian Standards regarding the design, construction and fit-out of food premises (Australian Standard AS4674-2004).

Section 3.1 of Australian Standard AS4674-2004 deals with requirements for floors in food premises, including restaurants, and provides:

“SECTION 3 FLOORS, WALLS AND CEILINGS

3.1 FLOORS

3.1.1 General Requirements

Floors shall be-

(a) appropriate for the area;

(b) able to be effectively cleaned;

(c) non-absorbent; and

(d) laid according to the relevant Standards (see AS 3958.1) for ceramic tiles) so that there is no ponding of water and harbouring of pests.

3.1.2 Suitability of floor finishes for food premises area

Floors shall be finished with surfaces as specified in Table 3.1.

3.1.3 Food preparation area

Floors in food preparation areas shall be finished with one or a combination of the following materials:

(a) Sealed quarry tiles or ceramic tiles.

(b) Stainless steel.

(c) Laminated thermosetting plastic sheeting.

(d) Polyvinyl sheeting with welded seams.

(e) Epoxy resin.

(f) Steel trowel case hardened concrete.

(g) Similar impervious material.

NOTE: The above is to allow the floors to be effectively cleaned.

TABLE 3.1

SUITABILITY OF FLOOR FINISHES FOR FOOD PREMISES AREAS

Finish Wet washbed areas Food preparation Vegetable preparation Servery Store room Chillers\freezers Bin Store Eating areas Comments
Stainless steel non-slip profile * * * * * * * * Welded joints
Ceramic tiles * * * * * * * * Epoxy grout
Quarry tiles * * * * * * * * sealed
Steel trowel case hardened concrete * * * * * Smooth-sealed finish, no joints
Carpet/carpet tiles *
Wooden flooring * Sealed
Polyvinyl sheet * * * * * * * * Heat-welded joints (not suitable adjacent hot fat appliances)
Vinyl tiles * *
Plastic matting * * Should be used for safety reasons only
It shall be easily cleaned and laid in sections that can be removable for cleaning
Cork tiles * Sealed
Epoxy resins * * * * * * * * Complying with AS 3554

Ceramic floor tiles shall be epoxy grouted and laid in accordance with the requirements of AS 3958.1.

Floors draining to a floor waste shall be evenly graded (at least 1:100) so that the water falls to the floor waste.

The intersection of floors with walls and plinths shall meet the coving requirements as given in Figure 3.1.

3.1.4 Food storage areas

Storage areas for unpackaged food, including temperature-controlled storage (coolrooms), shall have floors that comply with requirements for food preparation areas.

Floors of rooms used for the storage of food enclosed in hermetically sealed containers, dry packaged goods, vegetables, and equipment shall be finished with a non-absorbent surface.

Where floors are cleaned with hose and water (or otherwise flushed with water) the intersection of floors with walls and plinths shall meet the coving requirements as given in Figure 3.1.

3.1.5 Coving

Where coving is installed at the intersection of floors with walls/plinths shall be integral to the surface finish of both floor and wall in such a manner as to form a continuous uninterrupted surface.

‘Feather edge skirting’ is not permitted.

Coving shall be installed in accordance with the examples in the diagrams or other method that achieves the same outcome (see Figures 3.1 and 3.2).

NOTE: Coving is required to assist with cleaning to ensure that accumulations of dirt, grease, etc, does not occur at the wall/floor junctions.

Where vinyl or similar sheeting is installed, and the sheeting turned up to form a cove, a solid preformed coving fillet shall be used to support the sheeting.

Finally, you will also need to contact your local Council to register your business – see Sutherland Shire Council’s website regarding operating a food business.

Food handlingContact the team at Shire Legal if you have any questions about food handling compliance, about starting a food business, or if you wish to arrange a member of the Shire Legal team to visit your workplace to assess your food safety compliance.

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