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If you run a food business it’s not always easy to determine what you can handle yourself versus what you should outsource. Some things are common sense, like working with reputable suppliers and hiring a team of competent staff. But how should you best handle the task of hiring a Food Safety Supervisor?

Before you can answer that question, it’s important to figure out if you need a Food Safety Supervisor at all, and if so, what role this person will play in your business dynamic. It’s also helpful to understand what exactly (in detail) a Food Safety Supervisor does. Sure, the name gives part of that away, but there’s more to the job title than meets the eye.

So, what is the role of a Food Safety Supervisor?

Simply put, the role of the Food Safety Supervisor is to be aware of all relevant food safety legislation and standards applicable to your business. According to the Australian Institute of Food Safety, duties of the role include, but are not limited to:

  • Making sure all food handling tasks are carried out safely and properly by monitoring all food handlers.
  • Recognising, preventing and alleviating all food safety hazards in your food business.
  • Making sure all food handlers maintain safe, industry standard personal hygiene.
  • Ensuring that your business’s food safety program is up-to-date, maintained and adhered to by all members of staff.
  • Being ‘reasonably available’ to your food business and its local council during operating hours.

In order to qualify to carry out the above duties, your Food Safety Supervisor must first complete all required training to receive the necessary statement of attainment or certificate required within your state.

Do I really need a Food Safety Supervisor?

At the end of the day this depends on two things: where your business is located and what type of food it serves. Certain Australian states and territories require all registered food businesses to nominate a qualified Food Safety Supervisor.

Generally speaking, all licensable food businesses must have a Food Safety Supervisor if they serve: ready-to-eat food, potentially hazardous foods (e.g. raw and cooked meat), or food that has not been sold or served in its original packaging.

Details on additional laws and requirements can be found at the Australian Institute of Food Safety’s website.

Does my business’s Food Safety Advisor need professional qualifications?

If you would like to nominate yourself or one of your team members as your Food Safety Supervisor, it’s definitely fine to do so. So long as the individual you assign to the role is qualified. To carry out their duties according to industry standards, your chosen Food Safety Supervisor must hold a a food safety supervisor certificate, the basic requirement to oversee the safe production and service of food.

Details on how to attain a food safety supervisor certificate can be found here.

How many Food Safety Supervisors do I need?

The general rule is one Food Safety Supervisor per food business. However, some larger and busier businesses—especially those that operate around the clock—often choose to employ more than one. The most important rule to remember is: your Food Safety Supervisor must be reasonably available at all times. So if your establishment operates 24/7, employing or nominating more than one qualified Supervisor may be necessary.

Will my Food Safety Supervisor be able to better prepare my business for food safety inspections?

It’s natural to not look forward to food safety inspections. With so much to keep track of, it’s understandable to feel nervous about steps you might have missed. However, if your business has a confident and capable Food Safety Supervisor regularly overseeing all orders of proceeding, food safety inspections are generally a breeze. A fully qualified Food Safety Supervisor will make sure that your premises is always properly cleaned, that food is stored appropriately, and that the personal hygiene of your food handlers is up to industry standard.