The majority of the country’s charities and welfare groups have experienced an increase in the number of Australians in need of food assistance, putting pressure on the food industry to provide supplies, and raising an issue about food safety and security.
This will be among the issues presented by Greg Warren, General Manager of Australia’s largest hunger-relief organisation, Foodbank, at the 20th Australian HACCP Conference in August.
The HACCP Conference is Australia’s most significant food safety forum, hosted by leading training and assurance provider, Advancing Food Safety, SAI Global.
At the Melbourne event, Mr Warren will highlight the issue of food insecurity in Australia, the increasing demand for food donations, and how Foodbank operates the delivery of safe food to those in need.
In a Foodbank survey of over 700 welfare groups and their agenciesi, almost 70 per cent stated they have seen an increase in the number of Australians in need of food assistance.
Of those agencies, 25% reported a 15 + per cent increase in demand for food donations over a 12-month period, with 10% of agencies experiencing an increase greater than 30 per cent.
“This also highlights the issue of food safety and security,” Warrnen says. “With increased demand, the challenge for us is to safely supply vast quantities of food, often in times of crises, from various suppliers. The processes we have in place are more important now than ever."
Mr Warren is available for interview prior to the conference and can talk about how Foodbank can ensure people have access to essential food safely in times of individual and community crisis. Major contributing factors to the crisis include:
- Economic growth. In the last two decades, the net wealth of the poorest 20 per cent of households increased by 4 per cent, compared with a 28 per cent increase across Australia.
- Rising cost of living. Cost of living expenses continue to grow at a rate faster than the income of low-economic resource households.
- Decreased industry surplus. There is limited surplus of food for donation, due to improved inventory control and planning methods within the food industry.
- Welfare demand. Six in 10 agencies require at least 25 per cent more food, with almost three in 10 agencies requiring double.
Each year the HACCP Conference attracts delegates involved in the development, implementation and maintenance of food safety programs.
The 2013 conference will address current issues such as regulatory change, international policy implementation, food-borne illness outbreaks and technology developments.