Temporary Accreditations Explained

Safe Food Production Queensland (Safe Food) has made some important changes to its application process for accreditation in 2019.

What’s new?

New applicants undertaking activities deemed to be medium-risk or high-risk will now be issued a temporary accreditation for a period of up to two months, prior to being considered for an open accreditation.

Under a temporary accreditation, medium or high-risk businesses are required to have their food production system approved by Safe Food before they can supply food products that pose a higher risk to consumers. High risk foods include things like ready-to-eat meats, oysters, dairy products and more (note: these are just examples and not an exhaustive list).

Your level of risk is determined by Safe Food, based on what is documented in your Management Statement or Food Safety Program, and compared against the Food Production (Safety) Regulation 2014.   

To facilitate the approval process, medium and high-risk food businesses are required to provide additional technical information to demonstrate their nominated food safety controls are effective in maintaining compliance with the requirements of the relevant food safety scheme or standard.

Expected timeframes for a temporary accreditation

Once you submit your application for accreditation, our Central Assessment Team (CAT) will review it within five working days to ensure you have supplied all necessary documentation to progress your application further (refer Figure 1).

If you have not supplied everything, or more information is required, we will contact you. You will have 30 days (from the time your application is submitted) to provide all information requested by Safe Food. If you cannot meet this deadline, your application will be refused.

Once we have your complete application, it will then be reviewed, and a level of risk determined (low, medium or high). If your business activities are deemed low risk, your application will be submitted to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Safe Food with the recommendation of granting an open accreditation (you will not require a temporary accreditation).

If your business is deemed high-risk or medium-risk, your application will be put forward to the CEO of Safe Food with the recommendation of granting a temporary accreditation.

If you are granted a temporary accreditation, you will then be assigned an officer from our Food Incidence Response and Surveillance Team (FIRST). Your FIRST Officer will contact you within seven days of a temporary accreditation being granted to discuss what further technical information is needed. The amount of supporting technical information required will depend on your level of risk, the nature of your supply chain and what type of food you are producing (e.g. dairy processors will be required to submit different verification results to meat processors).

Safe Food will conduct an compliance audit during your temporary accreditation period based on the supporting information you submit and/or based on a site visit from a FIRST Officer.

This compliance audit may be done in the form of a desktop assessment (from Safe Food head office) or onsite at your business.

If your compliance audit is successful, the assigned FIRST Officer will provide a recommendation to the CEO of Safe Food that your business be considered for open accreditation. If areas of food safety concern are identified during the compliance audit, your temporary accreditation may be refused, unless these matters are actioned satisfactorily before your temporary accreditation expires.

Should your accreditation expire, you will need to cease operating and work with Safe Food to undertake the necessary actions to allow you to make another application for accreditation in the future.

Figure 1: Temporary Accreditation Process

What you need to submit to be considered for open accreditation

Medium-risk

Medium-risk accreditations (e.g. boning rooms) will be required to submit verification results (within the first month of temporary accreditation) prior to a compliance audit being conducted. The exception being medium-risk abattoirs which will be required to submit validation results and have a site visit within the first month of temporary accreditation.

High-risk

High-risk accreditations will be required to submit validation results (within the first month of temporary accreditation) before a compliance audit is conducted. The exception being high-risk Uncooked Comminuted Fermented Meat (UCFM), sprout, egg and dairy processors, which will be required to submit verification results and have a site visit within the first month of temporary accreditation.

The FIRST Officer assigned to your application will confirm exactly what you need to submit and can answer any questions you may have.

Fees involved

Every application for accreditation includes:

  • a non-refundable application fee ($162.10 in 2019)
  • an accreditation fee (determined by what accreditation category you fall under. Categories can be viewed in the Application Form).

Note: GST is not applicable for the above-mentioned fees.

If you are granted a temporary accreditation, then you will be required to undergo a compliance audit. The 2019 rate for this is $303.55 per hour (excluding GST) and you will be charged a minimum of 30 minutes.

Some high-risk and medium-risk businesses may also require a site visit, where a FIRST Officer visits your premises. The 2019 rate for this is $303.55 per hour (excluding GST), which is charged in 15-minute increments. Your assigned FIRST Officer will confirm if a site visit is necessary.

If during this site audit, you are issued a Corrective Action Request (CAR), then there may be additional charges.

What you can do to reduce your fees

Before you lodge your application for accreditation, ensure that you have all necessary documentation ready to go. This includes:

  • an application form (completed in full)
  • correct fees
  • a Statement of Intent (general overview of the business activities you intend to undertake)
  • evidence of your skills and knowledge (e.g. training certificates)
  • description of your premises / vehicle(s) / plant / equipment (including photos)
  • written approval from Local Council to show that the site at which you are proposing to undertake the processing activities is suitable for that purpose
  • supporting documents (e.g. lease agreements, DEHP licence, etc.)
  • A copy of your management statement or food safety program.

If you fail to supply all the information required by Safe Food within the first 30 days of your application, then it will be refused, and you will lose your application fee ($162.10 in 2019).

Can you supply product while on a temporary accreditation?

A temporary accreditation grants you short-term approval to begin operating under your approved program – with certain conditions attached.

You can supply low-risk products, such as raw meat, during a temporary accreditation period.

However, you cannot supply any high-risk products on a temporary accreditation until you have submitted your verification results to Safe Food and Safe Food have approved supply of these products.

How long is a temporary accreditation valid?

A temporary accreditation is valid for up to two months only. After this time, you will either be granted an open accreditation or have your temporary accreditation refused.

Your responsibilities when applying for accreditation

When applying for accreditation, your responsibilities include:

  • submitting a completed application with all necessary documentation (within first 30 days)
  • paying the prescribed fees (within first 30 days of application)
  • providing verification results, as requested by your assigned FIRST Officer (within the first month of your temporary accreditation)
  • completing a compliance audit with a Safe Food Officer
  • and (if applicable) completing a site visit with a Safe Food Officer, with no outstanding corrective actions required.

In return, Safe Food will complete the following:

  • review your application (within five working days of receipt)
  • determine your level of risk
  • assign a FIRST Officer, who will contact you within seven days of a temporary accreditation being granted
  • consult with you on what verification results are needed
  • conduct a compliance audit from our head office and/or a site visit (if necessary)
  • notify you once an open accreditation has been granted, or if your temporary accreditation has been refused.

What is an open accreditation?

Providing there are no areas of food safety deemed to be unmanaged under your temporary accreditation, your assigned FIRST Officer will make a recommendation to the CEO of Safe Food to grant you an open accreditation.

Under an open accreditation, you will be required to undertake an annual assessment, audit or other verification activities determined by Safe Food, to satisfy the requirements of the Food Production (Safety) Regulation 2014. Certain high-risk businesses may require two audits per year.

The compliance audit conducted under your temporary accreditation will count toward your annual verification activities.

How will I be notified of a decision?

Once a decision has been made on whether to grant you an open accreditation, an audit report will be forwarded informing you of the grounds for the decision, and (if successful), a copy of your open accreditation certificate. An invoice for your compliance audit will be sent separately.

For further information please email info@safefood.qld.gov.au or call 1800 300 815.