Charities, sports clubs and school canteens across Australia are facing a conundrum as new food safety regulations threaten to disrupt a cherished tradition — the humble sausage sizzle. Bunnings has even addressed the regulations.
From December 8 this year, amendments to the Safe Food Australia food safety standards will require individuals regularly handling food to demonstrate food safety training, triggering concerns among various groups heavily reliant on volunteers to sustain their operations.
Under the new rules, those involved in food handling must either complete a free online food safety training course or demonstrate their food safety skills and knowledge through an alternative means.
Concerns over volunteer recruitment
Speaking to Yahoo News, Ashleigh Gibson, the canteen manager at Parkside Primary School in South Australia, expressed concerns about the impact of the new regulations on volunteer recruitment. She highlighted that it is already challenging to find individuals with relevant training, and the additional certification requirement may further discourage potential volunteers.
"Since the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a noticeable decline in volunteer engagement," she said, "it might be more practical to have a supervisor in charge of the sausage sizzle instead of requiring everyone to get certified."
She also raised concerns about who would oversee the verification of individuals having completed the necessary training, especially in the context of sausage sizzles at sporting clubs.
What about the Bunnings sausage sizzle?
While the changes are causing anxiety within communities across Australia, it looks like there is good news for the iconic Bunnings charity sausage sizzle. The new rules offer an exemption for one-off or occasional fundraisers, which the hardware chain says covers the various groups that sell sausages at its stores.
Ben Camire, Director of Store Operations at Bunnings, said the weekend tradition of grabbing a snag from Bunnings can live on. "As community groups host sausage sizzles at our stores for fundraising and charitable purposes, it's our understanding they're exempt from the new safety standards scheduled to come into effect later this year," he explained in a statement to Yahoo News Australia.
Mr Camire went on to explain that Bunnings offer all groups comprehensive guidelines to assist them in meeting food handling requirements mandated by local councils and to ensure the success of their fundraising efforts. "The detail can vary depending on their location, but in general this covers the safe handling and preparation of food," he said.
Democracy sausage in the clear
Beloved polling booth sausage sizzles are also good to go. They too are exempt from the new requirements as they fall under the category of events organised solely for community or charitable fundraising purposes.
Edward McCartney, a spokesperson for Food Safety Plus, told Yahoo that it's advisable for individuals to complete the course, even if they qualify for exemptions. "Whilst there are no 'skills and knowledge' requirements for fundraising activities, it is my personal view that at the very least the event organiser/supervisor should be informed of safe food handling and storage practices and should avail themselves to any relevant free online training programs," he said.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has provided a grace period of up to a year for food businesses to implement the changes.
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