The South Australian dairy industry continues to deliver positive food safety results, based on analysis of 2023 audits.

There were no SA dairy products with pathogens at retail level, no antibiotic residue in finished dairy products, and no critical non-conformance identified. The percentage of major Corrective Action Requests (CARs) per audit decreased from 14% in 2022 to 13% in 2023.

CARs can be a useful gauge of Dairysafe’s activities but also indicate the continuous improvement of systems and controls within the sector.

The number of audits completed across the dairy supply chain trended higher in comparison with 2022. The Dairysafe team completed 308 audits covering dairy farms, milk transport, and dairy processor businesses, compared to 256 audits in 2022.

“The collaborative approach between industry and Dairysafe continues to see compliance rates trend favourably in terms of non-compliance/audit in comparison to previous years,” said Geoff Raven, CEO of Dairysafe.

“There were 35 major and 5 minor non-conformances identified during audits in 2023, compared to 33 and 12 respectively in 2022.

“There were no critical non-conformances in 2023, where the potential impact of the non-conformance was of substantial and/or immediate significance to food safety.”

The range of non-conformances at the processor level resulting in corrective action requests in 2023 included:

  • pest control
  • Ingredient receival
  • Cleaning and sanitation
  • Maintenance
  • Training
  • Internal audit
  • Calibration
  • Environmental hygiene monitoring
  • Labelling and traceability

In terms of non-conformance occurring at dairy farms, this continues to be restricted to very few issues, with a single corrective action request issued for farm environment.

In terms of incidents in 2023, the team managed 47 incidents (46 for 2022) and 5 complaints (9 for 2022).

All notifiable contaminants were identified through routine company testing arrangements, with most affected products remaining under company or trade control (test and hold). 

With two of these incidents, product had reached point of sale when the results returned, which required a consumer-level recall on both occasions (March and November 2023). In both instances accredited businesses followed their approved arrangement procedures and were successful in tracing distribution and removing products promptly.

Dairysafe’s incident oversight assists accredited businesses in verifying that procedures, skills, and knowledge are effective in responding to and controlling product integrity, safety, and suitability risks.

In terms of preparing for your next audit and ensuring a positive and successful result, here are seven key points to consider:

  1. Approach your audit from a continuous improvement perspective.
  2. Go over your previous audit, and any other commercial audits, to identify outstanding actions or opportunities for improvement – think about doing this with your team.
  3. Correct any non-conformances identified from previous audits.
  4. Ensure all documents and evidence is organised and readily accessible and ensure that key personnel are available, to reduce unnecessary delays.
  5. For farmers, complete an internal audit, to provide confidence in your system and check if there are any issues or opportunities for improvement in preparation for the audit.
  6. Review support programs – check that systems, monitoring and documentation are up to date.
  7. For processors, check if your recall preparedness is up to date in the business – how long since the recall plan was reviewed, and a mock recall occurred?

If you have any questions about preparing for your food safety audit, contact Dairysafe on (08) 8223 2277.