They were fined more than $150,000 in relation to food safety and hygiene failures following a project led by the Australian authority into what it called a ‘high-risk food sector where compliance was less than satisfactory’.
One company was fined $11,000 and its director $2,800, a second firm $27,000 and a Sydney manufacturer pled guilty to 19 charges and was fined $113,000.
Authority aware of compliance issues
The 'Fresh Noodle Manufacturers Project' was designed to improve standards in the industry after the food authority became aware of compliance issues.
Over four months NSW Food Authority officers did 25 inspections where they considered the use of preservatives, process and hygiene control, product labelling and temperature control.
Dr Lisa Szabo, NSW Food Authority CEO, said the properties of fresh noodles mean if they’re not kept within temperature control they become a breeding ground for microorganisms that can cause food poisoning.
"We target our efforts of investigation and risk management to where they are most needed in order to best protect the public and also reduce regulatory burden on those industry sectors who have a proven record of doing the right thing."
The NSW Government’s Food Safety Strategy 2015-2021 aims to reduce foodborne illness by 30% by 2021 and a compliance target of 95% for all businesses with food safety requirements.
Dr Szabo said issues with compliance included language barriers and traditional practices by certain cultural groups.
"I am pleased to note that following this particular project there was a significant increase in compliance, with an overall compliance rate of 96% for this sector – exceeding the target.
"Where a problem is significant enough prosecution is an appropriate enforcement action but education really is the most effective compliance tool, by properly educating people we actually change the culture of practice and that helps ensure ongoing compliance."
Listeria in delis project
Meanwhile, a project on Listeria monocytogenes in the deli environment has found a ‘significant gap’ in skills and knowledge between large, medium and small sized businesses.
A total of 31 retail delis were surveyed with Canada Bay and Northern Beaches Council between November 2016 and March 2017.
Eight listeriosis cases were detected in 2016 and linked to an RTE meat product, its manufacturer and retail delicatessens through Whole Genome Sequencing.
From 213 non-food contact surfaces across all businesses surveyed, 11 were positive for L. monocytogenes.
L. monocytogenes was not detected in any foods samples. Listeria spp was found in four different foods from different businesses.
Certain areas were a higher risk such as display area floors and food display cabinet sliding doors.
Some samples were also tested for Standard Plate Count (SPC), coliforms, faecal coliforms and E. coli.
The project found the larger the business the better the skills and knowledge.
“Individual compliance criteria - sanitising of surfaces and equipment, skills and knowledge, and structure and pest control - increased with the size of business. An exception to this was hygiene, and temperature control.”