Information & Support

Specialised (high risk) foods

Ready-to-Eat Foods

Ready-to-eat (RTE) foods are consumed without any further processing i.e. washing, cooking, salting etc. This does not include nuts in the shell or as whole, raw fruits and vegetables that are intended for hulling, peeling or washing by consumers.

RTE foods are considered high risk because quite often these are not cooked and are processed instead by curing, salting, drying or fermenting. These foods may also have secondary processes applied such as slicing, shredding, cutting and packaging. Usually the greatest risk of contamination occurs during secondary processing because there is a likelihood of contact with contaminated equipment and/or personnel. Training of staff processing and handling RTE foods must occur in order to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses. 

Cooked foods in the RTE category can also be high risk if secondary processes are applied post-cooking. During secondary processing, operator and equipment hygiene must be considered and all food safety measures taken to ensure the safety of the product.

Ready-to-Eat Packaged Meat Products

Smallgoods are defined as ready-to-eat (RTE) meat or meat products that are heat treated and undergo a cooling process. The cooking and cooling of smallgoods must meet the requirements of the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products (AS4696:2007).  It is to be noted that fresh sausages and dry-aged beef are not considered as smallgoods.

Businesses intending to manufacture smallgoods are required to provide a written request to PrimeSafe to obtain approval prior to manufacturing smallgoods. As part of the approval process, a construction inspection of the facility is conducted to determine whether the facility complies with the Standards. Once it has been approved, the facility will be audited every three months.

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSANZ) provides limits for specified pathogenic bacteria for some meat products, such as smallgoods and ready-to-eat meats.  At a minimum, on an annual basis, PrimeSafe licensed facilities manufacturing these products are required to validate that these products do not contain the pathogens in levels exceeding the limits stipulated in the Code.  Sample sizes must be conducted in accordance with the minimum sizes stipulated for each pathogen in the Code.

Listeria Monocytogenes has additional testing requirements as detailed in the Regulatory Guidelines for the control of Listeria. All businesses processing and packaging RTE products with a shelf-life greater than 5 days must have a Listeria Management Plan in their Food Safety Program.

Ready-to-Eat Seafood

Seafood can also be considered high risk because sometimes it does not undergo cooking or heating processes. Minimum processes such as salting or smoking may not be adequate for killing harmful bacteria. It is, therefore, important for businesses to have procedures in place to control the food safety hazards.

Standard 1.6.1 and Schedule 27 within the Food Standards Code lists the testing requirements for seafood. There are additional testing requirements for biotoxins in bivalve molluscs which is described in Standard 1.4.1 of the Food Standards Code and in Schedule 19 of the Food Standards Code. Bivalve molluscs includes cockles, clams, mussels, oysters, pipis and scallops; but excludes scallops and pearl oysters, where the only part of the product consumed is the adductor muscle and spat. Harvesters are required to harvest bivalve mollusc from classified waters as given in Standard 4.2.1 of the Food Standards Code.

Uncooked Comminuted Fermented Meat (UCFM)

The Food Standard Code defines UCFM as uncooked comminuted fermented meat which has not been heated to a core temperature of 65°C and maintained at this temperature for at least a minimum of 10 minutes or an equivalent combination of time and higher temperature process applied during production.

Steps of Approval for UCFM Manufacture

  1. Businesses intending to manufacture UCFM products are required to obtain PrimeSafe approval.
  2. A written request for approval must contain Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) based quality assurance procedures that demonstrate compliance with the processing requirements of Standard 4.2.3 of the Food Standards Code.
  3. PrimeSafe assesses the procedures and approves against the testing limits set out in Standard 1.6.1 and Schedule 27 of the Food Standards Code.
  4. Following receipt of your request, a PrimeSafe Licensing Manager will conduct an inspection of your facility to determine whether it complies with the construction requirements of the relevant standard to manufacture UCFM products. An approval will be given by PrimeSafe to conduct a trial.
  5. Results from the trial are submitted to PrimeSafe for final approval. Businesses cannot commence the manufacture of UCFM products until written approval has been granted by PrimeSafe.
  6. A licensee already manufacturing UCFM and intending to amend their approved procedures must submit a written request to PrimeSafe for approval.

If you have any questions regarding these high-risk foods as part of your PrimeSafe licence, contact the PrimeSafe office on (03) 9685 7333 or