PrimeSafe eNews Edition 21

30 May 2024
•  7 min read

In this Edition:

  • The PrimeSafe website has changed
  • Unannounced surveillance verification program
  • Listeria management in ready to eat foods
  • Seafood Industry Victoria Awards 2024
  • MTV Renewals and Inspections

The PrimeSafe website has changed.

We have a new website with a new look, new online tools, and new content.

Some things to look out for on the new site:

A new Resource library. Search for standards, guides, factsheets, reports and publications by entering your search keyword. You can filter your search by food product (such as seafood), or business activity (such as retail), or by document type (such as factsheet).

Do you need a licence? Find out what you need in 3 simple steps and go straight to the page with all the information you need to know about the licence.

Our new food safety section. Here you will find information about food safety programs and how to manage food safety risks.

Find a licensed business. Search for a business or vehicle licensed by PrimeSafe by it name (or registration number), food product (such as seafood), or by the business activity (such as retail).

Our licensees helped design the new site. They told us what information was important and how they wanted to use the website. Thank you very much to the licensees who attended our workshop, talked to us on the phone and worked with us to test the new design.

Unannounced Surveillance Verification Program

PrimeSafe has now implemented new auditing and compliance arrangements as part of a regulatory burden reduction strategy that commenced in early 2023. These included:

  1. Removing Internal Audit requirements from Food Safety Programs for small retail facilities with less than 20 workers.
  2. Removing Management Review requirements from Food Safety Program for small retail facilities with less than 20 workers.
  3. Removal of Food Safety Programs for low risk wildcatch seafood businesses which included all licensed wildcatch seafood businesses, except bivalve shellfish harvesters.
  4. Removal of Food Safety Program for Meat Transport Vehicles.
  5. Implementation of revised audit arrangements.
  6. Merging the Aquaculture (Q) and Seafood Processor (W) licence categories for seafood businesses that process grown and harvested seafood from an aquaculture reserve at a processing facility licensed to the same seafood businesses.

Prior to implementation of the new auditing and compliance arrangements, PrimeSafe conducted a pilot Unannounced Surveillance Verification Program (USVP) during January and February 2023, to assess the outcome of implementing a modified sulphur dioxide (SO2) sampling program at licensed facilities that retail fresh meat products. The pilot program used unannounced inspections at licensed facilities as part of the existing SO2 program which was modified to assess compliance with Critical Control Points (CCPs) at 15 facilities subject to this program. 20% of the facilities inspected were found to have major or critical non-compliances identified at these inspections.

The USVP was then continued for the first half of 2023, conducted across 10% of licensees retailing fresh meat. 15.5% of facilities were found to have major or critical non-compliances identified at these unannounced inspections. This compares with 3.2% non-compliance being identified at announced third party audits over the same period. This demonstrates that the unannounced nature of the surveillance verification program provides an added layer of assurance for PrimeSafe, while reducing the third-party audits required at licensed facilities, the vast majority of which are compliant with licensing requirements.

Commencing from 1 July 2023, the USVP was expanded to include other licence types, to support the reduced third-party audit arrangements and assess compliance with CCPs and licensing requirements at licensed meat and seafood businesses. These included the following licence types undertaking high-risk processes;

(i) Further Meat Processors (manufacturing smallgoods or packaging RTE meat products).
(ii) Retail Seafood businesses (manufacturing smallgoods or producing RTE seafood products).
(iii) Further Processor Seafood businesses.

The USVP targeted small to medium throughput businesses in these categories, where historically higher levels of non-compliance have been identified, as opposed to larger businesses where greater resourcing is available to be put into QA management where less non-compliance is usually identified. An initial sampling plan of 10% of businesses meeting these criteria in each of these 3 categories were inspected. The USVP for the second half of 2023 revealed improved compliance rates, as licensees adjusted the revised regulatory arrangements, with only 6.66% found to have a Major or Critical non-compliances identified at these inspections. The program in continuing in this format through 2024.

The SO2 sampling program continues as part of the USVP inspections.  Over the past 20 years, PrimeSafe has conducted 7463 SO2 sampling inspections, with 71 positive SO2 detections (0.95%). 

Listeria Management in Ready to Eat Foods

Listeria monocytogenes (LM) is a deadly pathogen and is widely distributed in the environment. If consumed in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, it can lead to critical health conditions including fatalities in young children and older or immunocompromised consumers. It can easily enter a facility through incoming raw materials, staff and visitors entering high-care processing areas, equipment and tools brought in by staff or contractors.

LM is particularly important when processing RTE foods because they will not be heated prior to consumption. Apart from heat treatment, which is very effective, there are few options for eliminating LM from foods and equipment. Packaged RTE foods with a shelf life of greater than five days and that support the growth of LM, must be tested to ensure that LM has been eliminated from the food. RTE foods that do not support the growth of LM must be validated to ensure that growth of LM is inhibited throughout the shelf life of that product (see Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code).

Good manufacturing practices and a robust cleaning and sanitation program can prevent LM contamination and are the backbone of a food safety program when producing safe, LM–free food products.

More information regarding sampling and testing of LM in the environment and in meat products can be found in the Australian Meat Regulators Group Guidelines for Management of Listeria.

The limits for Listeria in RTE foods can be found in the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code (Standard 1.6.1; Schedule 27). The table below shows the limits of LM in RTE foods that support the growth and RTE foods that do not support the growth of LM. For exemption from Listeria testing requirements please contact PrimeSafe.

Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code

(Standard 1.6.1 – Microbiological Criteria for Foods: Schedule 27)

(n) = number of samples to be taken from a batch

(c) = max number of samples that can fall between m and M

(m) = acceptable level of organisms

(M) = max level of organisms

PrimeSafe is holding a forum on Listeria Management on 16th July 2024. If you are interested, you can join the online by registering through the Humanitix link below:

Seafood Industry Victoria Awards 2024

More than 130 representatives from Victoria’s seafood sector celebrated the best of their industry at Seafood Industry Victoria’s award ceremony at Melbourne’s Rydges Hotel on Thursday 9 May. Attendees included seafood producers, government officials, the Hon. Steven Dimopoulos (Minister for Outdoor Recreation), industry associations, seafood wholesalers, retailers, and chefs.

The event was hosted by Seafood Industry Victoria (SIV) and sponsored by gold sponsors including The Australian Government, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), PrimeSafe and Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA).

Individuals and companies were recognised for their excellence, commitment, and contribution to the Victorian seafood supply. Victoria has always been recognised as a reliable and sustainable source of seafood.

PrimeSafe licensees awarded for their efforts included:

  • Large Business Award: Jade Tiger Abalone (aquaculture farm)
  • Small Business Award: Yarra Valley Caviar (aquaculture farm)
  • Take Away Award: San Remo Fisherman’s Co-Op
  • Seafood Experience Award: Portarlington Mussel Tours
  • Young Achiever Award: Stephanie Kaparos – CEO of Clamms Seafood

For a list of award recipients, from that evening please visit the Seafood Industry Victoria website – for details.

MTV Renewals and Inspections


The following licence categories are required to be renewed before 30 June 2024:

  • Meat Transport Vehicle
  • Abattoir
  • Further Meat Processing Facility
  • Poultry Processing Facility
  • Prime Tallow Processing Facility
  • Inedible Rendering Facility
  • Pet Meat Processing Facility
  • Pet Food Establishment
  • Meat Inspector Registration

If you operate any of these PrimeSafe licensed businesses/registrations, you need to renew your licence(s) / registration(s) before 30 June 2024.
Renewal reminders will be sent out via email and text on 22 April 2024 for MTV’s and on 20 May 2024 for other license categories.
To complete the renewal, you must:

1. Check and complete the renewal form
Renewal Forms were sent to licensees who do not have licensee portal access. You can complete the paper form and send it to PrimeSafe.
For Licensees that have access to the portal, please complete your renewal online through the PrimeSafe Licensee Portal. Guides for how to use the PrimeSafe Licensee Portal are available here.

2. Pay the licence fee
If you are using the paper form, follow the payment instructions on the back of the renewal form.
If you use the PrimeSafe Licensee Portal, you can pay with a credit card or BPAY. Follow the instructions provided in the portal.

MTV Renewals and Inspections 2024

Meat Transport Vehicles (MTV) licensees are encouraged to renew their licence by 24 May 2024 to allow time for PrimeSafe to mail out the new MTV labels that are required to be placed on the vehicles by 30 June 2024.

All MTVs and fleets must be inspected as part of the licence renewal. For further information regarding construction inspections, click here

Information on the approved locations for Meat Transport Vehicle Inspection Locations 2024 has been published on the website, click here

*Note: Inspections will also be conducted at the PrimeSafe office in South Melbourne during the 2024 renewal period. We will be taking bookings for inspection slots via the licensee portal during the online renewal process,  click here

On Site inspections will commence from April 22, 2024. Please note we have also made available two Saturday mornings for on site inspections at the PrimeSafe office on the 25 May and 15 June 2024.

If you haven’t received your renewal advice by June 2024, please contact the PrimeSafe office on or 03 9685 7333.