Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today released its report on the strawberry tampering incident, with key recommendations focusing on the need for improved communication during incidents, particularly those involving criminal matters.
“The government has already acted in response to this incident by strengthening penalties for intentional contamination of food, and helping FSANZ progress their review into high-risk horticulture sectors,” Mr Booth said.
“The report’s recommendations, once implemented, will help ensure an improved response to any future incidents. These improvements will support our growers and ensure Australians can continue to trust in our effective and responsive food safety system.”
Mr Booth said several recommendations focused on improved communication in incidents involving criminal investigations, as well as a review of existing food incident protocols.
The following recommendations are made:
- All jurisdictions should review their food incident response protocols – in particular ensuring that formal linkages between regulators, health departments and police are in place for incidents involving intentional contamination.
- When a food tampering incident occurs across jurisdictions, a central agency should be engaged to ensure national coordination of messaging and information associated with the incident.
- Police should be included in national food incident debriefs when intentional food tampering is involved.
- Triggers for activation and management of intentional contamination of food under the National Food Incident Response Protocol (NFIRP) should be reviewed by the food regulatory system.
- A representative body for the horticulture industry is required to support crisis preparedness and response in the sector.
- Traceability measures within the horticulture sector need to be strengthened. Government and industry should work together to map the current state of play and identify options and tools for enhancing traceability.
- Work on traceability should include collaboration with research bodies and other stakeholders to evaluate technical and innovative solutions to improve quality assurance throughout the supply chain.
You can read the report here