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National Food Handling Benchmark Survey - December 2001 (no1)

December 2001

Executive Summary

This National Food Handling Benchmark study documents research on the awareness and knowledge of safe food handling practices and actual food handling practices by food businesses within Australia. The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) commissioned Campbell Research & Consulting to conduct the benchmark study, which was undertaken between February and May 2001.

The National Food Handling Benchmark study was conducted to support one of six activities identified in the ANZFA Evaluation Strategy. These activities aim to collect baseline data either prior to adoption of new food standards or during the transition period from the old Food Standards Code to the new Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (new Code). These baseline data will be used by ANZFA as a benchmark to evaluate the impact of implementing new regulatory measures on key stakeholders.

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council agreed in July 2000 that three national Food Safety Standards be included in the new Code. Previously, each State and Territory had their own regulations. The Australian States and Territories are currently adopting these standards into their legislation. At the time of this survey, no State or Territory had adopted the new standards. The Food Safety Standards do not apply in New Zealand.

The National Food Handling Benchmark study was undertaken by means of telephone survey of managers of food businesses and an observational on-site survey of food businesses by environmental health officers and public health unit officers. Questionnaires for each survey were developed around key result areas identified in the new Food Safety Standards such as temperature control, preventing contamination, cleaning and sanitation and personal hygiene and health of food handlers. In addition, data were sought on common sources of information and training on safe food handling practices, as well as on the use of written food recall plans and food safety programs.

An interpretative summary of results from the telephone survey and observational survey is presented, followed by the results from each survey. Results have been analysed against a number of variables, including the priority classification of the business (level of risk relating to handling of potentially hazardous food and the customer base).

The research indicates that there is a relatively high level of awareness and knowledge of basic safe food handling practices in food businesses, though the theoretical knowledge did not always match actual practices on-site. Food businesses with written food safety programs more often undertook correct safe food handling procedures than those with no written program. The businesses with written programs tended to be large, high risk businesses. Results in the key areas of protection of food from contamination and personal hygiene indicate that there is a significant minority of businesses that lack knowledge on these issues, particularly amongst medium or low risk businesses and small businesses.

Download the Full version with appendices (190 pages) [ pdf ]

Download the Full version with no appendices (127 pages) [ pdf ]


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