Beloved Aussie tradition under threat

New food handling rules will affect sausage sizzles. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui

Charities and sports clubs could have a tough time finding someone to man a sausage sizzle when new food safety rules come into effect.

From December 8, changes to the Safe Food Australia food safety standards mean anyone regularly handling food will need to show they have food safety training.

That means they’ll need to have completed a free online food safety training course or show they possess food safety skills and knowledge in some other form.

Charity groups, sport club, and school fundraising groups are concerned they won’t be able to get ‘qualified’ volunteers for sausage sizzles. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) said food businesses would have up to a year to implement the changes.

FSANZ chief executive Sandra Cuthbert said she appreciated the co-operation of governments and food businesses.

“The key changes to the standard are the requirements for training for food handlers and supervisors and substantiating key actions at critical points known to manage food safety risks,” Dr Cuthbert said.

But some groups who rely on volunteers aren’t happy with the changes.

Heather Shaw, P&C president at Mundaring Primary School, in Perth’s east, has told The West Australian newspaper that it’s going to be another obstacle to getting volunteers.

“It will impact the social aspect, as sausage sizzles are a good way to get different people to volunteer, as turning sausages isn’t as intimidating as other volunteer opportunities,” Ms Shaw said.

“Getting a food handling permit will mean people just won’t volunteer, which means it will be up to committee members or the sausage sizzles will just stop running.

“I don’t know anyone that has ever been sick from a sausage sizzle. Why is the rule being brought in when it won’t make a difference?”

Groups are being assured that one-off charity event volunteers will be exempt from the new rules. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui

Western Australia’s Department of Health is welcoming the changes, saying the new national rules are designed to prevent and reduce foodborne illness from unpackaged food.

“FSANZ modelling shows the total cost of salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis (common causes of foodborne illness) to our WA community and health system was estimated at a staggering $75m for 2022,” a department spokesperson said.

“The new approach, which is a national change that applies to all states including WA, is not about stopping sausage sizzles – it’s about making sure your snags don’t come with a side of food poisoning.”

And if you’re worried the changes will impact the local Bunnings charity sausage sizzle, fear not, as the rules allow an exemption for one-off or occasional fundraisers.