The Department of Agriculture says importers of low-risk food can now book a virtual inspection when their food is referred to the Imported Food Inspection Scheme.
Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud said the new method of inspection was a win-win for food safety and importers.
“Normally, an officer will travel to the importer’s premises to inspect food imported into Australia,” Mr Littleproud said.
“For low-risk food, these inspections involve visually checking the food for damage or deterioration or infestation, and labels for compliance with the Food Standards Code.”
He said that, in 2020, the Department trialled virtual inspections in real time using a smart portable device.
“Importers are supportive of these inspections as it reduces waiting times for inspections and the risk of COVID-19 infections,” Mr Littleproud said.
“It also frees up officers to conduct inspections of higher risk foods in person.”
The Minister said the fact these inspections could be beamed anywhere, anytime meant a huge efficiency gain into the inspection process.
“Due to these benefits, the Department is exploring similar arrangements for certain other types of inspections,” he said.
“By moving to virtual inspections, our high standards continue to be met while creating efficiencies for the Department and industry.
“This is part of our modernisation and co-design journey we are taking with industry,” Mr Littleproud said.