NSW clamps down on noodle safety

By Nichola Murphy
Thursday, 02 November, 2017

Fines have been issued to three Sydney noodle manufacturing businesses reaching a total of over $150,000 after they failed to comply with the Food Act 2003 and the Food Standards Code.

The NSW Food Authority launched the 'Fresh Noodle Manufacturers Project' after compliance issues were brought to their attention. The targeted project aimed to improve food safety to prevent the risks associated with poorly controlled fresh noodles during manufacturing.

While many would not identify noodles as a high-risk food, NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said they must be stored in temperatures below 5°C to prevent them from growing harmful 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," said Szabo. "Specialised projects like this are helping to achieve that goal."

Between January and April 2016, 25 inspections were conducted by NSW Food Authority officers. After analysing the use of preservatives, process and hygiene control, product labelling and temperature control, three companies were prosecuted.

One received a fine of $11,000 and its director $2800, the second company was fined $27,000 and the last was a Sydney manufacturer who pleaded guilty to 19 charges and received a $113,000 fine as a consequence.

Other enforcement activity included 15 warning letters, 8 improvement notices, 49 penalty notices and 9 prohibition orders.

Szabo said language barriers and traditional and cultural practices relating to temperature control and monitoring were the major problem they came across when viewing compliance issues. She continued by suggesting preventive measures in the future.

"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."

The NSW Government's Food Safety Strategy 2015–2021 aims to reduce foodborne illness by 30% by 2021 and has set a compliance target of 95% for all food businesses with food safety requirements.

Szabo noted that the outcome of this project was positive, stating: "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."

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