Food safety on farms

Pre-farm regulation

Potential risks to food safety and product integrity from initial inputs such as feed, livestock, fertilisers, water and chemicals are assessed by Government and national industry agencies on an ongoing basis.

The Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) determines the types of chemicals that can be used in the production of stockfeed and veterinary chemicals used for treatment of animals as well as the recommended withholding periods after treatment.

Vendor declarations providing background information must be supplied with stockfeed consignments and animals sourced from off-farm.

The stockfeed and grain industries have HACCP-based accredited quality assurance programs to ensure the feed is safe for use by dairy animals.

Electronic ear tags used to identify all animals on the farm provide a key tool for traceability of animals from birth to death or slaughter. The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) provides the framework for the identification of Australian livestock.

State legislation ensures fertilisers are appropriately labelled and maximum limits are set for elements that may pose a risk to agriculture.

Farm food safety programs must ensure water supplies are suitable to protect animal health and prevent contamination of milk.

Environment Protection Authorities (EPAs) regulate the disposal of farm effluent on-farm.

Farm regulation

All Australian dairy farms are required to have a documented food safety program (FSP). State Regulatory Authorities (SRAs) approve the FSP before a dairy farm licence is granted. Approved auditors conduct regular audits of the farm FSP.

Core elements of the FSP include:

  • Control of contaminants – physical, chemical and microbiological
  • Dairy milking premises
  • Hygienic milking
  • Water supply and quality
  • Cleaning and sanitising
  • Traceability and records
  • Personnel competency

All animals are individually identified from birth to death. Farmers actively monitor the health and wellbeing of animals with the assistance of registered veterinarians.

Vendor declarations are required for animals and stockfeed purchased from external sources.

Risks from agricultural, veterinary and cleaning chemicals are minimised by using only chemicals registered by the APVMA. Instructions for use and withholding periods for milk and meat are described on the label and users must adhere to label instructions.

Trained operators use clean and sanitised equipment to milk cows with minimal stress. Water used for cleaning is monitored to ensure it will not contaminate the milk. Milk is cooled promptly and stored until collection under temperatures to minimise the growth of microbial hazards.

Comprehensive records of key parts of the farm food safety program are maintained, including the use of chemicals, audit results and action taken if deviations are detected.

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