Staff at a NSW food lab are apparently so concerned about the threat to the community if their lab is closed down that they have walked out of the facility.
According to media reports, around 100 staff at New South Wale’s public food safety lab walked off the job for an afternoon because they say the community is going to be put at risk of food poisoning if the facility shuts its doors.
A report on News.nineMSN.com.au claims the food testing branch of the Forensic Analytical Science Services (FASS) may be forced to close its doors after the Food Authority didn’t renew its contract, flagging a move to a private tender.
Around 17 scientists as well as technical officers from the Lidcombe lab in Sydney’s west are about to be axed if the lab is closed and according to Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes, the community is set to suffer if the lab is closed down. Hayes said that without the “robust testing of an independent lab” the community’s welfare could be put at risk.
He was quoted as saying:
“Making that subject to contracts limits the ability to make sure that there is a truly independent process,” he told AAP.
“There’s absolutely no argument for commercialising this work.”
He said the move was “just another step” in newly-installed NSW Premier Mike Baird’s plan to privatise the state’s health services.
Not everyone is unhappy about the possibility of the facility closing, NSW Health and Pathology said in a statement:
“…the current arrangement between NSW Food Authority and FASS was already based on a commercial contract.
It said the NSW Food Authority works with a range of commercial food testing laboratories and has previously employed 18 approved analysts working in commercial labs.
FASS director Kevin Forward said food testing wasn’t a large part of the facility’s business.
“The decision also means the NSW Food Authority will be able to benefit from a wider range of expertise that exists in the marketplace,” he said.
While it is important that independent food testing facilities remain a major part of our communities, to ensure that the food industry is holding up the standards and practices required of them by the law, it is equally important that we in the food industry exercise a certain level of self-examination and regulation, so that others do not have to suffer the consequences of our actions, or inaction.
Ultimately we need to learn to handle and prepare food safely because proper food handling, preparation and cleaning practices are essential in minimising the risk of food contamination. And as we know food contamination can cause serious foodborne illness outbreaks which can spread far and in the most serious cases result in fatalities, that is where food safety training comes in. Food safety training is vital to learning the dos and don’ts of food handling and safety as well as what the laws says about it. Visit our homepage to learn more!