AUSTRALIA – Food safety industry leader Steritech has submitted an application to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to amend food irradiation rules in Australia by raising the maximum permitted energy level of machines generating X-rays for irradiating food from 5 to 7.5 megaelectronvolts (MeV) provided that the X-ray target is made of tantalum or gold.

The change involves the delivery of the radiation dose and does not seek to alter the parameters, including the dose range, or the currently permitted items that may be irradiated.

Irradiation can be used to treat fresh produce to destroy bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, with the exception of dried pulses, legumes, nuts, and seeds. However, the irradiation process does not make food radioactive.

The company claims that it wants the adjustment in order to improve food irradiation effectiveness and lessen reliance on the radioactive isotope cobalt-60.

Only when necessary are X-rays generated, and the radiation source can be turned off when not in use.

The proposal states that processing times would be shortened and throughput would rise if run at 7.5 MeV as opposed to 5 MeV. There would also be quicker turnaround times and better dose homogeneity in meals.

The adjustment, says Steritech, will result in an increase in the radiation processing rate from 12 pallets per hour to 17 or 18.

From 2021 to 2022, Steritech irradiated 7,777 tons of fresh produce for export.

According to Steritech, the maximum permissible energy for the production of X-rays has already been increased to 7.5 MeV by the United States, Canada, Indonesia, India, and Korea.

New guidelines for restaurant service

In the meantime, the Food Standards Code in a bid to improve food safety in various industries to safeguard customers has updated provisions for restaurants and retail establishments.

As part of the assessment, FSANZ talked with stakeholders on topics such as how to enhance food safety outcomes and any discrepancies between current and proposed practices.

The new standard includes specifications for improved skills and training, as well as important actions at crucial stages recognized to manage food safety hazards.

The tools included in the standard incorporate best practices and national consistency in food safety management to lower the incidence of foodborne illness.

Resources aimed at enhancing cultural awareness and knowledge about food safety will enhance implementation.

New regulatory measures are food handler training; a food safety supervisor; and evidence to substantiate food safety management of key processes.

Organizations have until December 8, 2023, to make the modifications.

Australia to revise limits for bivalve mollusk biotoxin levels

The Australian government officials are also mulling over revising the maximum limits (ML) for bivalve mollusk biotoxin levels.

The most recent evaluation of the current Australian MLs for marine biotoxins in seafood took place between 1997 and 1999.

The Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Advisory Committee has submitted an application to align the diarrhetic (DST) and paralytic (PST) shellfish toxin limits with the Codex and New Zealand standards.

The DST and PST MLs in the Codex are less stringent than those in the Food Standards Code.

Plans by the committee would impact okadaic acid and saxitoxin. A public comment period is planned for early 2023, reports Food Safety News.

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the review won’t begin until October 2023, with a consultation period scheduled for early 2024.

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