Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) staff, in partnership with the NSW Food Authority, will be hitting the streets in the coming months, to speak to businesses about their legislative requirements if they’re selling food. In particular, staff will be assisting low-risk food businesses understand their requirements, specified under the NSW Food Act 2003. The partnership requires Council to assess all food businesses that sell food and place each food business into one of three categories: low, medium, and high risk.
Some businesses might not realise they are a food business, and may be surprised to see Council staff check-in with them, particularly businesses that were not operating three years ago. If a business is unsure whether they’re considered a food business, if you sell anything that can be eaten, it’s considered a food-related business.
“Council staff will be focussing on low-risk businesses. Low-risk food is food that is unlikely to contain pathogenic microorganisms and will not normally support their growth. For example, this includes chocolate bars, soft drinks, pre-packaged foods, bread and protein powders,” said Manager Environmental Compliance Michael Jarman.
The current rate for registration is $60 for a three-year period, which covers from 1 September 2021, until 31 August, 2024. All businesses will be notified by Council staff whether they are a low-risk food business. The fee is an administration fee only, not an inspection fee. High and medium risk premises will continue to be inspected yearly, the current annual fee being $222.
“There will not be any penalties for businesses that aren’t already registered as a low-risk food business at this stage, but we do want to make sure that people are aware of their legislative requirements, which is why staff will be providing friendly reminders to business owners across the Dubbo Regional Council Local Government Area,” said Mr Jarman.
The reason Council staff are helping businesses understand their obligations is because in the past, small businesses have not had an adequate food recall system in place which has made tracing very difficult. In response to this, under the NSW Food Act 2003, all businesses selling food are required to be registered with Council.
It’s also a key way businesses can be notified of any food recalls, even if it’s very unlikely.