A Food Safety Program (FSP) is a written plan detailing the actions taken by a business to ensure the food it sells is safe for people to eat.
It identifies and controls food safety risks and hazards, and is an important tool to help businesses handle, process and sell food safely.
An appropriate and well implemented Food Safety Program can help a business:
- ensure the safety of food it prepares and sells;
- better manage its operations through improved record keeping and cost control practices; and
- demonstrate due diligence in the preparation and sale of food.
Who needs a Food Safety Program?
Not all food businesses require a FSP.
The Food Act 2006 outlines who must comply with this requirement. Under the Act, all of the following high-risk food businesses must have a FSP in place:
- Businesses that serve, process or deliver potentially hazardous food* for the consumption of vulnerable people (eg. hospitals, aged care facilities and child care services)
- Businesses that harvest, process and distribute raw oysters and other bivalves
- Businesses that produce manufactured and fermented meats
- Catering businesses that serve food to the general public
* Potentially hazardous foods are foods that must be kept at certain temperatures to minimise the growth of bacteria that may be present in the food, or to prevent toxins forming. Foods that are potentially hazardous include : raw and ready-to-eat meat and fish and any foods made of these items, such as ham, pies, fish fingers; milk and food containing milk such as cream, custard, dairy-based desserts; cooked rice and pasta; ready-to-eat foods such as salads, cut fruit and vegetables; and ready-to-eat meals such as lasagne, curry, sushi and salad sandwiches.
Even if you don't require a FSP, it can benefit your business, particularly in cases where:
- you are seeking to distribute food product through supermarkets, and therefore need an FSP to verify its quality
- your core point of difference is premium service and high standards of food quality
- you would like to open your food products to an international market.
Food Safety Program criteria
The FSP must:
- Identify all food safety hazards that could potentially occur in the food handling operations of the food business
- Identify where, in a food handling operation of the food business, each hazard identified under paragraph (a) can be controlled and the means of control
- Provide for the monitoring of the means of control identified under paragraph (b)
- Provide appropriate corrective actions to be taken when a hazard identified under paragraph (a) is not under control
- Provide for regular review of the program to ensure it is appropriate for the food business
- Ensure appropriate recordkeeping practices are observed, including maintaining records about action taken to ensure the business is carried on in accordance with the program.
There are several FSP examples available from Queensland Health to assist food businesses in developing a Food Safety Program that is relevant to the food business. These examples are only tools to assist in developing your program; all activities, hazards, controls, corrective actions and monitoring must be site-specific to your business.
Accreditation of Food Safety Program
Council must assess your Food Safety Program to ensure it meets the requirements of the Food Act 2006. This is a one-off process called accreditation. Re-accreditation is only required if you make major changes to your FSP.
When applying for accreditation, Council also requires you to obtain and submit written advice from an approved Food Auditor as to whether your FSP meets the requirements set out in the Food Act 2006.
Council cannot assess your application without this advice. A list of approved Food Auditors is available from Queensland Health. If you have any questions or concerns about an approved auditor, contact the Department of Health on phone (07) 3328 9310 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 1: Apply
Submit your FSP application using the Application for a Food Business Licence form ( PDF, 1.47 MB ) , along with the copy of the FSP, notice of written advice from the approved Food Auditor, and payment of the relevant fee ( PDF, 0.03 MB ) to Council.
Step 2: Assessment
Council will assess your application within 30 days, unless additional information is required. If your program is accredited, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will inform you through a Letter of Accreditation.
Step 3: Audit schedule
Once the FSP is accredited, Council will set an audit schedule with the first audit due in 6 months.
You must then ensure that an approved third party Food Auditor carries out an audit of the FSP at the set frequency.