Sourcing product from accredited suppliers is the best way for businesses to protect themselves from the very real cost of unsafe food practices. It only takes one bad egg for your business to be left facing litigation, hefty fines, forced closure and widespread bad publicity.

 The deadly ‘Spanish cucumber’ Ecoli outbreak in Europe (which ended up actually being caused by sprouts grown from contaminated seeds) reminded the culinary world that no matter where you fall on the food chain, taking chances with food safety is not an option.

 Here are some good questions to ask your suppliers, if you want to avoid headlining the morning rag and the dreaded ‘Name and Shame’ website:

  • Have you had any contact with a person with a shiny badge (Food Authority)?
  • Are you HACCP accredited? If so can you provide current HACCP and Food Authority certificates? HACCP is an internationally accepted food risk management system. Accreditation demonstrates the investment of time and money to establish and maintain world-class food safety protocols
  • If pending, when will your HACCP accreditation be finalised? The average timeframe for achieving HACCP accreditation is 6 months. The process may take longer if the amount of work required to meet the set criteria is extensive or complex
  • What are you accredited for? This question ensures compliance for all areas of the business- i.e. processing , storage, transport
  • Are your agents/suppliers required to provide HACCP accreditation?
  • Does your Food Authority licence cover all products/areas of the business? This is important as specific licences are issued for transporting high risk products such as eggs and plant material, as well as high risk areas such as processing stations
  • If contamination is discovered, are you able to trace and recall goods promptly?
  • Do you undertake regular micro-testing of your processed goods?
  • Do you undertake regular micro-testing of your environment?
  • Are your goods transported in an approved , temperature controlled vehicle?
  • Do you regularly check the temperature of your vehicles and cool rooms?
  • Do you have an ongoing pest control program?
  • Have your food handling staff undergone thorough training in safety procedures?

 The estimated annual cost of food poisoning in Australia is $1.25 billion. NSW and the public health system bear roughly 1/3rd of these costs. On average 5.4 million Australians contract food poisoning each year, resulting in 120 deaths, 1.2 million doctor’s visits, 300,000 prescriptions and 2.1 million sick days.