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Food Handler Training

A food business must ensure that persons undertaking or supervising food handling operations have the following skills and knowledge that are commensurate with their work activities:

  • Skills in food safety and food hygiene matters, and
  • Knowledge of food safety and food hygiene matters.

There are several ways to achieve the skills and knowledge component of these standards. The skills can be developed on the job, while the knowledge is best gained by attendance at a Food Handler training course. Registered Training Organisations can be found in the Yellow Pages.

Food handlers who have successfully completed the food handling training courses are supplied with a certificate of attainment that are provided by the training providers they attended, not Townsville City Council.

The above information does not apply to food businesses undertaking food handling operations for fundraising events. Fundraising events are those which:

  • raise funds solely for community or charitable causes and not for personal financial gain, and
  • only food which is not potentially hazardous or does not require thorough cooking before consumption, is prepared and sold.

Food Safety Standards 3.2.2 Division 2, section 3

I'M ALERT Food Safety Training

Townsville City Council has subscribed to an online I'M ALERT Food Safety program which enables food handlers to complete training for FREE, in their own time and at a location of their choosing, thereby reducing costs for the food business and improving productivity. It will also help protect your business as food handlers will have imrpoved skills to help reduce food poisoning.

Council highly recommends any person (food handlers as well as Food Safety Supervisors) involved in the food industry to complete this training program. It is also ideal for anyone in the community to do as it can help to improve your skills when cooking in the kitchen at home for family and friends.

I'm Alert Website I'M ALERT Food Safety is an online food safety training program that delivers FREE training to food handlers and enables a consistent and efficient delivery of Food Safety Training. The program can be accessed online or by clicking on the icon to the left and includes:
  • Basic food safety principles for Food Safety Standards (e.g. temperature control, food receipt, food storage, hygiene of food handlers etc). 
  • Interactive tasks and quizzes.
  • Training acknowledgement form and certificate (assists a food business operator and staff to demonstrate skills and knowledge requirements).

Food Safety Supervisors

All licensed food businesses will be required to nominate a Food Safety Supervisor (FSS). Anyone, including the business owner, licence holder, employees, or an external contractor can be a FSS provided they meet the required competencies and are reasonably available at all times the business is operating. The FSS must have substantial experience in the food industry and has acquired extensive skills and knowledge in matter relating to food safety and know how to recognise, prevent and alleviate food safety hazards.

A FSS is required to take a lead role in supervising food safety in your food business. Apart from holding the required competencies, they must also:

  • Have the ability to supervise food handling practices in the food business,
  • Be reasonably available at all times the food business is operating, and
  • Have the authority to supervise and give instructions to food handlers.

All new licensable food businesses will be required to notify Council's Environmental Health Services of their FSS details (this is to be within 30 days of the food licence being issued). You must also notify Environmental Health Services of any changes to your FSS, or their contact details within 14 days of the change.

Food Safety Program

Food businesses that are required to develop and implement a food safety program (FSP) are:

  1. If it involves off-site catering, as defined in section 17 of the Food Act 2006.
  2. If the primary activity is on-site catering, at the premises stated on the food licence, as defined in section 18 of the Food Act 2006.
  3. If the primary activity is on-site catering at part of the premises stated on the licence where they are serving 200 or more people on 12 or more occasions per year (e.g. a function room used for on-site catering and situated on the premises of a hotel.
  4. If the food business is carried on as part of the operations of a private hospital or otherwise processes or serves potentially hazardous food for six or more vulnerable persons. This includes:
    • Hospital facilities including acute care, psychiatric, hospice, chemotherapy and renal dialysis facilities
    • Age care facilities including nursing homes, respite care, same day aged care and low care aged care facilities
    • Child care facilities including long day care, occasional day care and employer sponsored child care (does not include family day care).

Child care centres are required to have a food safety program if they prepare potentially hazardous food at their facility for six or more children to consume. Serving of meals which has been provided by parents/carers or heating of bottles does not require a food safety program.

Off-site catering means serving potentially hazardous food at a place other than the principal place of business. It does not include merely delivering food (i.e. pizza delivery or delivering a platter of sandwiches).

On-site catering means preparing and serving potentially hazardous food, to all consumers of the food at the premises from which the business is carried on, under an agreement of which the food is of a predetermined type, persons, time and cost. Examples include dedicated wedding reception venues, function halls or large hotels whose primary food business is on-site catering.

Other food businesses that are not required to have a FSP may apply for accreditation of their FSP. If they do so, they must have the program regularly audited and must comply with the FSP.

What must a food safety program contain?

The Food Act 2006 states that a program must:

  • Identify food safety hazards that are likely to occur in food handling operations of the food business.
  • Identify where each identified hazard can be controlled and the means of control.
  • Undertake monitoring of the means of control.
  • Provide for the appropriate corrective action when the identified hazard is not under control.
  • Carry out regular reviews of the program.
  • Keep appropriate records for the food business, including any action taken to ensure the business carries on in compliance with the program.

What are the benefits of a food safety program?

A food safety program is a proven system for managing food safely. It is a documented plan for making sure the food you sell is safe. An appropriate and well implemented food safety program can also help a food business demonstrate due diligence to produce and sell safe and suitable food.

How do I develop a food safety program?

There are various food safety program templates available to help you develop your program that is tailored to your food business. Food safety programs do not have to be developed by external consultants or contractors. Visit Queensland Health for further information.

Accreditation of food safety programs

Once completed, your food safety program will need to be assessed by council to ensure it meets the requirements under the Food Act 2006. This is a one off process called accreditation. Re-accreditation is only required if major changes are made to the food safety program.

To get your food safety program accredited, submit your Food Safety Program Application along with the copy of the program and with the relevant fee to council. Townsville City Council also requires the applicant to obtain written advice from an approved auditor as to whether the food safety program meets the requirements set out in section 104 of the Food Act 2006. Council will not proceed with assessing the application if written advice from an approved auditor is not attached to the application.

A list of approved Food Auditors are available from the Queensland Health website.

Once submitted you application will be assessed by council within 30 days. An Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will inform you whether your program has been approved.

What happens after my food safety program is accredited?

You must have your first compliance audit conducted by an approved auditor within six months of accreditation. You then must continue to have audits undertaken by an approved auditor at a frequency specified by council on initial accreditation.

A list of approved Food Auditors are available from the Queensland Health website.

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acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of Townsville, the Bindal and Wulgurukaba peoples.