Guide to Regulatory Guideline Number 1: Introduction of Regulatory Auditing in Western Australia

Food Act 2008 (WA) fact sheet 8

Background

On the 23 October 2010, Part 8 (Auditing) of the Food Act 2008 (the Act) will come into full operation.  This means that a number of obligations on enforcement agencies and food businesses will have legal effect. The CEO of the Department of Health has approved a guideline under section 120 of the Act that sets out an approach to the introduction of these requirements that are to be adopted by enforcement agencies. The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide information that assists enforcement agencies in the practical adoption of this guideline.

What is a guideline approved under section 120?

Section 120 of the Act enables the CEO to adopt guidelines that relate to the performance of functions of enforcement agencies under the Act.  The CEO can also require enforcement agencies to adopt such guidelines.  Once the CEO has approved a guideline under section 120 requiring enforcement agencies to adopt them, enforcement agencies have an obligation to perform their functions in accordance with the requirements of the guideline.

Which businesses are required to have a food safety program?

As per the Western Australian Priority Classification System, approved by the CEO under section 100 of the Act, food businesses captured under Standard 3.3.1 (Food Safety Programs for Food Service to Vulnerable Persons) of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) are required to implement a Food Safety Program (FSP) that complies with Standard 3.2.1 of the Code. 

What is a ‘verification assessment’ of a food safety program?

A ‘verification assessment’ of a FSP is an initial assessment of whether a food business has developed a FSP that contains the elements required by Standard 3.2.1.  Authorised officers will need to be satisfied that the FSP, when put into operation, will be likely to enable a food business to meet its obligations under Standard 3.2.1 (Food Safety Programs).  This will only require a decision to be made on whether the program ‘substantially complies’ at the time of the assessment. 

A tool has been developed to assist with this food safety program assessment - Food Act 2008 Verification of Food Safety Program Guideline - which should be read in conjunction with Food Standards Australia New Zealand ‘Food Safety Programs: A guide to Standard 3.2.1’.

The initial verification assessment is not an approval of the FSP; a FSP is a ‘living document’ and once it has been determined that the FSP contains the required elements it will be the audit process (and the regulatory food safety auditor) that will determine whether the FSP continues to be adequate to control the hazards associated with the business and the processes involved.

Implementation timeline

In order to ensure consistency across the state, the DOH expects that enforcement agencies will endeavour to work within the following timeframes in relation to the implementation of the legislative requirements:

Prior to 23 October 2010

Enforcement agencies should ensure that all businesses captured under Standard 3.3.1 have:

  • been notified of the requirement to have a FSP that complies with Standard 3.2.1 (Food Safety Programs) of the Code
  • received guidance material on the requirements of Standard 3.2.11
  • been assessed for compliance with the Food Safety Standards (Standard 3.2.2 and Standard 3.2.3 of the Code).

From 23 October 2010

Enforcement agencies should begin assessing Standard 3.3.1 applicable food business compliance with the requirements of Standard 3.2.1:

  • If a FSP has been developed, enforcement agencies are to undertake a verification assessment of the FSP.
  • Following verification of FSP, enforcement agencies are to advise food businesses of start date of auditing.
  • Initial audit frequency to be determined by reference to the WA Priority Classification System.

From 23rd April 2011

Food businesses should start contracting approved regulatory food safety auditors.

It is important to note that these requirements relate only to regulatory food safety auditing.  Enforcement agencies must ensure that food businesses subject to these requirements still comply with the provisions of the Code relevant to the business, particularly Standards 3.2.2 and 3.2.3.

Other information

References

1 Refer to: Food Standards Australia New Zealand ‘Food Safety Programs: A guide to Standard 3.2.1 (June 2007).

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