MAV Food Safety Activities Update
The MAV is pleased to announce that Marilyn Duncan has agreed to undertake the project management of the Food Safety Local Government Reporting Project and the TempLinx Project, with back-up as required from Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC).
This follows the resignation of Brendan O’Loughlin earlier this year. A former Chief Executive Officer of Brimbank City Council, Marilyn brings strong project and negotiation experience to these projects.
Food Safety Legislative Implementation
The new classification requirements for food premises has been in effect since 1 July, and many councils are now preparing their registration renewals under the new statutory regime. A considerable amount of advice has been provided by the Department of Health (DH) to councils to support the changes. An electronic tool prepared by DH will also assist councils to classify the food premises according to the new criteria. This has been circulated to all councils and demonstrated at DH state and regional forums held this year.
Copies of the Department of Health Bulletins are available via a password activated website at www.health.gov.au. Contact DH for your username and password. Alternatively, they are available on request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The electronic tool and communications materials for food businesses and community organizations are also available from DH.
Over 300 council officers attended the forum held by the Department of Health on 16 November, a mark of the strength and commitment of local government to implementing the changes that have been designed to improve food safety regulation in Victoria.
The DH/MAV Food Safety Coordination Project Steering Committee has continued to meet throughout 2010. Its current focus is the Local Government Reporting Project, the TempLinx Project, and other statutory and administrative items where a local government perspective has been required.
Local Government Reporting Project
The technical work that needs to be undertaken to change council IT systems to enable easy reporting of data to the Department of Health (DH) is well underway. The Department is providing funding for the changes via the MAV. Those councils without an IT software vendor will report data through a smart-form developed by DH. This will require data entry every quarter, and will only be of assistance to councils with small numbers of business registrations.
The task required of the IT vendors is to adjust council IT systems so they can transmit data that meets the terminology and definitions contained in the Data Dictionary prepared by the Department of Health. This will enable data that is consistent and comparable to be reported from all councils to generate a state-wide perspective.
The critical task for environmental health officers to undertake is to adjust their food business registration databases to reflect the new classification system and the terminology contained in the data dictionary. The first reporting period is 1 October to 30 December 2010, with the first report to be sent to the Department by end January 2011.
As well as managing the project to work with IT software vendors, the MAV has been working with DH to develop principles that will underpin how the data will be used.
The Data Dictionary Working Group was reconvened in October to provide feedback about the content of the report that is now required to be published by the Department of Health, and suggestions for principles that will guide its preparation in relation to council data.
Contact Rosemary Hancock or concerning the IT software changes, Marilyn Duncan.
The TempLinx Project to create a central registration system for temporary and mobile food premises operating in Victoria has commenced. The Act provides that this registration is a statewide registration. It will mean that temporary and mobile food premises will be able to register in one municipality, and operate in any other district provided the proprietor lodges a "statement of trade".
The new legislation and “TempLinx” will require a new way of operating for many food businesses and councils, and considerable planning and refining of the proposed system has been undertaken over the last two years. The registration system is intended to be ‘live’ so that all councils in Victoria can see the registration and inspection status of particular food premises at any point in time.
It breaks new ground in councils using data provided by another council to guide their own inspection responsibilities. It will also require a robust database system that is reliable and accessible.
Council responses to the discussion paper prepared by the Department in 2008 about the changes to the Act, and also a separate paper prepared by the MAV in 2008 were important in guiding the statutory changes that were contained in the Food Amendment (Regulation Reform) Act 2009. If you would like to refresh your understanding of the issues that have been required to be considered in the development of this project, the discussion paper can be downloaded from the MAV website.
The MAV has agreed to manage the TempLinx Project, with funding from and on behalf of DH. The building of the TempLinx registration system is to implement State legislation. However councils will be the principal users of the system. As a result, MAV’s involvement will enable a local government perspective to be at the heart of the system being designed. The Department will continue to have responsibility for ensuring the necessary supports are provided to ensure the system’s success to implementation of the legislation and associated IT system, such as education materials, and training to councils and food businesses about how to use the system.
The central registration system will not take effect until 1 July 2011. The main activities currently being undertaken are the system’s design, appointment of a contractor to build the system and development of agreements with relevant State Government agencies, such as Small Business Victoria, about the changes they need to make to facilitate businesses accessing the system electronically. Further updates will be provided as this project proceeds.
Victorian Committee of Food Regulators
A new committee, the Victorian Committee of Food Regulators, has been established by the State Government to bring together agencies involved in food safety regulation to ensure the seamless operation of the Victorian
food regulatory system.
Establishing this committee was one of the recommendations of the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) in its report “Simplifying the Menu: Food Regulation in Victoria” released in 2007. The State Government agreed with VCEC that better coordination be achieved between existing agencies, rather than create a new single food authority in Victoria.
The MAV has been invited to represent local government on the committee. As a result of the varied nature of councils across the state – small and large consumer populations, many or few food businesses, rural/metropolitan etc – the MAV has agreed it will convene a local government working group to provide advice about agenda items before each meeting.
The Executive Officer of the Committee will support the MAV with this activity. Expressions of interest to participate in the MAV advisory group will be invited once we clarify its status following the election of the Baillieu Government on 27 November.
Contact Rosemary Hancock
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