NOTE: This standard applies to both Australia and New Zealand.
Standard 1.6.1 Microbiological limits in food aims to prevent foodborne illness from food containing unsafe levels of microorganisms. The standard sets out how to determine whether a specific lot of food has an unacceptable level of microorganisms. Maximum permissible limits for particular microorganisms in different food groups are listed in the accompanying Schedule 27.
In addition to the standard, FSANZ has developed guideline levels for certain other microorganisms and foods. These can be accessed here. If these guideline levels are exceeded, it generally indicates a problem in the food production process or hygiene procedures that needs to be addressed.
Review of microbiological limits
FSANZ is reviewing the microbiological limits in the Code, considering recent scientific evidence, international standards and preventative measures throughout the food chain mandated through Chapters 3 and 4 of the Code.
The review is looking at what microbiological criteria are required in food safety management and for what purpose. For example, criteria may be established to determine the safety of a specific lot of food (food safety criteria) or to verify if a food safety system or a processing step is working (process hygiene criteria).
To date, food safety criteria have been added to Standard 1.6.1 for:
FSANZ’s approach to the review is outlined in this 2015 consultation paper.