Why does Council charge an annual inspection fee?
In the case of Environmental Health inspections, fees were introduced in 1993 to contribute to the costs of inspection, administration, education and compliance services.
Council approved fees are charged for Inspection of Food premises (P1, P2, P3, P4), hairdressing, beauty and skin penetration (tattooing, electrolysis & acupuncture) premises, air conditioning cooling towers and boarding houses/hostels.
A re-inspection fee may also be charged if a non-compliant premises requires additional inspections.
What is the Legal basis for charging fees?
Section 608 of the Local Government Act 1993 provides that Council's in NSW may charge approved fees for various services provided.
Fees are placed on public exhibition for comment. In May of each year, Council's Draft Management Plan (including proposed fees) is advertised in the local press and placed on public exhibition for 28 days. Comments or objections from the public on the proposed fees and charged are invited during that period.
Following the 28 day exhibition period, comments and objections from the public are considered and Council then adopts the fees and charges, with any changes.
The current fees and charges are detailed in the Schedule of Fees and Charges.
Failure to pay fees may result in the debt being referred to a debt collection agency and details may be forwarded to credit authorities in the event of non-payment.
What is the administration fee?
The annual administration fee is intended for enforcement agencies to recover the indirect costs associated with functions they carry out under the Food Act 2003. It is separate from a fee for inspection, which is charged under the Local Government Act 1993.
Many Councils use this administration fee to cover the cost of functions including but not limited to the following:
- Periodic newsletters or mail outs providing food safety information to food shops.
- Advertising, promoting and implementing various initiatives such as the Food Safety Supervisor.
- Maintaining relevant food premises databases.
- The development and delivery of training and/or educational materials.
- The involvement in any food recall activity.
- Negotiating with various stakeholders such as solicitors, builders, shop fitters or contractors on behalf of an existing or new food business operator.
- Providing verbal advice on plans for new food businesses or changes to existing food businesses.
- The inspection of premises that may have been subject of a complaint which, upon inspection, cannot be substantiated and consequently no inspection fee is charged against the business.
- The service of letters of an advisory or warning nature.
- In serious situations where the closure of a business or part thereof is required in the interests of food safety, the service of a Prohibition Order and the subsequent Clearance Certificate.
In addition Councils may from time to time be involved with food sampling programmes or other initiatives in association with the NSW Food Authority and no charge is directed to the businesses involved.
Further more there may be times when a Council needs to negotiate with a property owner on behalf of a food shop proprietor, for example in the case of building repairs or the availability of common staff toilets, and no charge is directed to the business.
Have you notified your food business with North Sydney Council?
The Food Safety Standards require you to register your food business details with. Council.
Council keeps a register of food premises, which assists in the regulation, inspection, education and identification of premises in the event of an outbreak of food borne illnesses
What information is required for Notification?
You will be required to supply basic details about your business including: proprietor's name, business address, type and nature of your business and food supplied/processed, and location of all food outlets of premises used by your business.
If you have recently purchased a food business or ownership of an existing food business has been transferred to a new owner, a new notification is required.
Changes to business details like name, address or type of food handled or sold require you to update your existing notification.
Food Premises - registration form (186KB)
What happens if I do not notify?
Current legislation allows Councils to prosecute businesses for failure to notify their detail. The maximum penalty is $2750. Alternatively, a Penalty Infringement Notice maybe served.
Making a complaint about a food premises
When consumers purchase food, they are protected under the Food Act 2003, which is enforced by the NSW Food Authority and Council. As a customer, you can complain about:
- unsafe practices involving food or a food outlets
- a food product that has made you or someone you know sick
- dirty premises or poor food handling
- foreign objects in food
- a food product that has been tampered with.
If you work in the food industry, you can complain about:
- a trader who is selling food that is falsely described or does not comply with a prescribed standard
- a trader who is making misleading claims, eg. about nutrition or improper labelling;
- a trader who has adulterated food, eg. used an illegal additive or preservative.
To make a complaint contact the NSW Food Authority or Council's Environmental Health Officers, and provide the following information:
- details of the product - brand, name, packer's or manufacturer's address, country of origin, size, date code, batch code
- purchase details - place, date, who served you, receipts
- a written statement including a brief outline of your complaint, your name, address, telephone number and signature. In rare situations we may act before we receive a written complaint
- whether you wish to be known to the food business - your details will be confidential unless you expressly wish otherwise.
- the food item, if possible, noting that if you hand it over you lose ownership of it.
The information you provide is confidential and not available to food businesses without your consent.
What are the relevant standards of construction?
Potential operators should be aware of the construction requirements of Australian Standard 4674.2004 - Food Premises - Design, Construction and Fit Out Guide (4MB); as well as the requirement of Food Safety Standards 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 under the Food Standards Code from www.foodstandards.gov.au.
Your Local Public Health Unit:
Northern Sydney Area Health Service
Phone: (02) 9477 9400
North Sydney Council
Environmental Health Officer
Phone: (02) 9936 8100
NSW Food Authority
6 The Avenue of Americas
Newington NSW 2127
Phone: 1300 552 406
Fax: 02 9647 0026