Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tasmania releases new draft egg safety regulations

The Tasmanian Government today released draft egg regulations for public comment. They appear to  be a very sensible match of consumer protection measures while limiting the impact on backyarders.

The draft regulations (Primary Produce (Egg) Safety Regulations 2013) are designed to enable compliance with a national food safety standard that must be applied by all States and Territories.

Mr Klumpp, General Manager Biosecurity and Product Integrity with the Department of Primary Industries, said a new egg standard in the national Food Standards Code, developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, had a requirement for egg stamping to be introduced in all States and Territories as part of improving food safety standards in the egg production industry.

“Acknowledging this is a national requirement that Tasmania must comply with, the draft regulations for our State have been developed to take on concerns and issues from Tasmania’s large and small egg producers,” Mr Klumpp said.

“For example, although stamping of eggs to ensure traceability of sold products is required, we have identified a range of measures to enable compliance whilst minimising impacts on our smaller egg producers.”

Mr Klumpp said the measures Tasmania has identified to address concerns raised by some egg producers included:

· Producers who had fewer than 20 egg producing birds and did not sell eggs would not be required to stamp their product at all.

· Producers with fewer than 20 egg producing birds and intend selling their product would be provided with a free hand held stamp by the Department when they registered their details. This would enable eggs to simply be hand stamped to ensure traceability requirements are met. Producers in this category must still comply with the Food Standards Code, however, do not need to be accredited by DPIPWE.

· Producers with more than 20 egg producing birds will be required to be accredited by DPIPWE and have an audited and approved food safety program in place. However, this has been a requirement in Tasmania since commencement of the Egg Industry Act 2002. All eggs produced in this category are also required to be stamped.

“This national egg standard was developed in response to the level of egg-related illnesses occurring in Australia each year – estimated at more than 12,000 cases and costing $44 million.

“Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) determined that having commercial eggs stamped with the producers unique identifying mark would enable them to be quickly traced in the case of food safety problems.

“FSANZ ascertained that in the event of egg-related foodborne illness, stamped eggs could be more easily traced to the producer, enabling the cause of any contamination to be addressed quickly, preventing further potentially contaminated eggs entering the market and averting wide product recalls.”

Mr Klump said written submissions on the draft regulations could be made until 10 January 2014.

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