With its role of promoting best practice management systems and overseeing and directing industry strategies for the safe and hygienic production of red meat and livestock in Australia, SAFEMEAT oversees a number of industry programs.
SAFEMEAT has identified eight key industry priorities which it addresses through three year strategic plans.
1. Standards and regulations
SAFEMEAT encourages the development of harmonised and scientifically based national and international standards and promotes minimisation of regulation to that necessary to produce safe food, ensure customer protection and prevent market disruption.
Many standards and regulations govern the meat safety systems that are in place in Australia on the farm and at the feedlot, at the saleyard and during transportation as well as during processing and distribution.
2. Emergency disease management
This priority area focuses on ensuring effective emergency disease management strategies are in place and are activated at appropriate times to minimise market disruption should a disease incursion occur. For example, in the case of a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Australia, SAFEMEAT has ensured that there are contingency plans ready to implement immediately.
3. Animal diseases (as they relate to food safety)
SAFEMEAT's objectives when it comes to animal diseases involves minimising market disruption arising from the public health aspects of animal disease outbreaks and contributing, where appropriate, to the development and implementation of national policies and programs designed to protect Australia from exotic animal diseases.
By focusing on this priority area, SAFEMEAT ensures the red meat sector is able to deal effectively with food safety issues arising from disease outbreaks in cattle, sheep or goats.
SAFEMEAT also works to ensure Australia’s internationally recognised Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) free status is maintained by providing direction into the conduct of relevant projects and studies.
Current initiatives include the National TSE Surveillance Program (NTSESP) which is nationally coordinated by Animal Health Australia (AHA). NTSESP involves identifying and testing cattle and sheep for clinical systems that could be mistaken for TSE.
SAFEMEAT actively promotes the observance of Withholding Periods, Export Slaughter Intervals and Export Grazing Intervals in order to prevent residues being present above the corresponding maximum residue limit for all markets.
This priority area focuses on any potential residue problem and developing effective management strategies before the potential problem becomes an issue. Programs such as the National Residue Survey (NRS) assist in this.
The programs SAFEMEAT provides direction on in relation to pathogens, are based on implementing sound management systems that deliver safe and hygienic food in order to meet consumer and regulatory requirements.
This involves the development of pathogen management programs such as the E. coli and Salmonella Monitoring Program, which assists in ensuring market access is maintained and safe and hygienic products are delivered every time.
6. Systems development and management
SAFEMEAT oversees the development and establishment of key management systems to underpin red meat safety and hygiene programs to ensure a through-chain, world’s best practice approach to the management of food safety risks in the red meat industry.
The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia’s key system for the identification and tracing of livestock for biosecurity, food safety, product integrity and market access purposes. NLIS is underpinned by State and Territory legislation, which forms the regulatory framework for the system.
Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) is another system which SAFEMEAT provides advice and direction on in order to ensure it is achieving its prerogative as an effective on-farm food safety system which upholds Australia’s reputation as a world leader in meat and livestock food safety.
7. Communication and education
SAFEMEAT aims to facilitate communication, education and awareness of meat safety and hygiene issues within the red meat and livestock industry and the broader community both domestically and abroad.
8. Emerging issues
SAFEMEAT closely monitors emerging issues or trends, such as advancements in biotechnology policy, domestically and internationally to ensure industry is well informed. Where necessary, SAFEMEAT maintains the flexibility and capability to respond to issues as they emerge, including changing market and consumer demands.
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Did You Know...
Australia holds a disease free status for FMD and TSE (BSE or 'mad-cows' disease and Scrapie)
The Australian red meat industry works closely with state and federal government agencies to ensure Australia’s meat safety systems remain world class.
Australian red meat —
Safe, healthy and delicious.