Discounts and incentives will be offered to local businesses meeting food safety standards as part of Bundaberg Regional Council’s Think Food Safe program.
Up to 30 per cent discount on food licence fees will be available for those businesses which meet or exceed the food safety standards.
Higher licence fees will apply under the Think Food Safe program for businesses failing to meet the minimum food standards, due to the additional officer time required.
These premises will not be able to display the Think Food Safe signage.
Bundaberg Regional Council Health and Food Safety spokesperson Cr May Mitchell said the reinvigorated program would help to ensure positive dining experiences for all.
“The Bundaberg Region has a great reputation for our unique culinary experiences and the diversity of choices our hospitality industry offers and food safety plays such an important role in supporting that reputation,” Cr Mitchell said.
“Through this program local businesses will be equipped with the tools and advice they need to improve their compliance with food safety standards, with the assistance of our Environmental Health Officers.”
Think Food Safe replaces the Eat Safe program which had not been embraced by most food businesses or their customers.
Eat Safe, which operated under a star rating system, was frequently confused for food quality standards rather than food safety.
The program allows good food operators to proudly display artwork with a ‘Think Food Safe, we do here!’ sign so customers can dine or purchase with food safety in mind.
Any compliant businesses would also receive a 10 per cent discount on licensing fees.
Cr Mitchell said for food premises that exceeded the standards, further incentives were available.
“All businesses with exceptional food hygiene will get a 20 per cent discount while the businesses that also have excellent record keeping practices will be eligible for a 30 per cent discount.”
The new program also aimed to address non-compliance, with penalties for businesses that consistently failed to meet food safety standards.
If Environmental Health Officers identify food safety breaches that pose a high risk to food safety and consumers, a 50 per cent or 100 per cent licence fee increase may apply.
“Council staff work closely with local businesses to ensure compliance but we believe the risk of absorbing the additional costs incurred by Council to provide increased one-on-one support will provide an incentive for non-compliant businesses to quickly rectify any concerns,” she said.
“The program allows good food operators to quickly rectify incidental or low risk issues, confirm this with the Environmental Health Officer and retain or improve their incentives.
“This not only benefits businesses, but the community, by ensuring that whenever you eat out in the Bundaberg Region you know our businesses Think Food Safe.”
Each Council Environmental Health Officer has now also been assigned geographical area to ensure food businesses can develop ongoing relationships with assessors.
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