Export Meat Regulatory Action and Sanctions Policy

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​​​​Purpose

This policy provides a clear statement on regulatory actions and sanctions that can be applied for non-compliance with the Export Control Act 1982 and the Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Orders 2005 (EC(MMP)O).

Scope

The policy applies to the occupiers of export registered red meat slaughter establishments and independent boning rooms, and exporters of meat.

Definitions


Term

Definition

Approved Arrangement:

An arrangement approved under clause 5 of Schedule 1 and varied in the circumstances specified inclause 17 of Schedule 1 EC(M&MP)O.
The purpose of the approved arrangement is to clearly describe those processes and practices which, when correctly applied by the occupier, will underpin the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources certification of meat and meat products for export (Approved Arrangement Guidelines -Meat)

Authorised Officer

A person appointed under section 20 of the Export Control Act 1982 to be an authorised officer.

Corrective Action Plan (CAP)

A documented plan that ensures non-compliance is effectively addressed. It must be agreed to by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the occupier of an export registered establishment or exporter.

Corrective Action Request (CAR)

A written recommendation to take action to address a non-compliance, from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to an export registered establishment or exporter.

Critical non-compliance

A failure (or a combination of failures) to comply with any applicable requirement referred to in Order 57 of the EC(MMP)O that:

  1. results in or is likely to result in the preparation, export or certification (as the case may be) of meat or meat products that:
    1. are not fit for human consumption or their integrity is compromised; or
    2. do not comply with the applicable importing country requirements; or
  2. prevents an accurate assessment being made as to whether the meat and meat products:
    1. are fit for human consumption and their integrity is assured; or(ii) comply with the applicable the importing country requirements.Order 60 EC(MMP)O

Exporter

a person engaged in the business of exporting meat or livestock, or both.
Section 7 Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997

Occupier

  1. in relation to a registered establishment means the individual, corporation or other legal entity (or any combination of these) in whose name the establishment is registered; and
  2. in relation to an unregistered establishment means the individual, corporation or other legal entity (or any combination of these) who:
    1. is the operator of the business preparing meat or meat products at the establishment; or
    2. if that person cannot be ascertained — the person in charge of the operations for the preparation of meat or meat products at the establishment.<<EM>Order 8 EC(MMP)O

Sanction

A provision of a law enacting a penalty for contravening the legislation

Systems Audit

An audit of systems under an occupier’s approved arrangement.

Verification Audit

An audit of the implementation and sustainability of the corrective and preventative actions detailed in the CAP.

Roles and responsibilities

The occupier of a registered establishment for the preparation of meat and meat products for export holds the obligation for the establishment to comply with the requirements of the Export Control Act 1982 (the Act) including the EC(MMP)O. This obligation is detailed in an Approved Arrangement describing how compliance is achieved at the establishment. The occupier commits to meet the legislative requirements within the Approved Arrangement.

The Approved Arrangement and the operations at the establishment are inspected, verified and audited by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources) to confirm that the occupier has fulfilled their obligations.

An Exporter of meat also has an obligation to comply with the requirements of the Export Control Act 1982 (the Act) including the EC(MMP)O and the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997. It is the exporter’s responsibility when applying for meat export permits and government certificates to prove compliance with all applicable legislation.

The department, as the competent authority, is responsible for ensuring or supervising the implementation of animal health and welfare measures, international veterinary certification and other standards and recommendations. The department is also responsible for the issuing of export permits and government certificates for animal and plant products.

Meat export permits and government certificates are issued by the department based on regulatory activities (inspection, verification and auditing) that underpin the Australian Export Meat Inspection System and information provided by the occupier and/or exporter.

The department is also required to notify the appropriate state regulatory authority, under service delivery arrangements, of any significant non-compliance or breach to requirements.

The Export Meat Program regulates the production of meat for export in order to facilitate market access. The department may take regulatory action or apply sanctions where an occupier or exporter does not comply with their obligations.

Method

In line with the legislation, regulatory actions and sanctions will be applied where non compliance and/or breach of the legislation are identified such as in the case of a failure to register to export, critical non-compliance at audit and/or port of entry rejection.

During inspection, verification and auditing activities regulatory actions will be taken to ensure that non-compliant product does not continue to be produced or exported. Regulatory actions can be taken by authorised officers to:

  1. apply a disposition to animal(s), carcase(s), carcase part(s), meat and meat product(s) for export in line with the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production of Meat and Meat Products AS 4696 (Australian Meat Standard) and/or;
  2. stop the chain temporarily or control the rate of operations to accurately perform inspection, decision or disposition functions (Order 70.2 EC(MMP)O) and/or;
  3. retain for the purpose of inspection (Order 72 EC(MMP)O), and/or;
  4. direct an exporter (Order 76.3 EC(MMP)O).

The Secretary (or delegate) will take regulatory action against the occupier of the establishment if the establishment’s Approved Arrangement or its implementation is non compliant with the legislation, including policy and procedures made under the legislation. This action can be:

  1. an audit report including recommendations to take action i.e. a corrective action request and/or;
  2. a notice to vary the approved arrangement (whole or in part) to bring it into compliance with the EC(MMP)O and/or;
  3. a notice to change the frequency of audit and/or;
  4. a written notification requesting the occupier to show cause as to why the approved arrangement (whole or part) should not be suspended or revoked and/or;
  5. a written notification requesting the occupier to show cause as to why the registration should not be suspended or revoked and/or;
  6. a written notification to immediately suspend an approved arrangement or registration where a significant/serious food safety, animal welfare, product integrity or market access risk occurs and/or;
  7. to conduct an unannounced audit and/or;
  8. to revoke export permit(s) and government certificate(s) where product already certified is not in compliance with the certification requirements.

It should be noted that the Secretary (or delegate) may require audits of the operations for the export of meat and meat products for food and/or operations for the certification of meat and meat products (Order 55.1EC(MMP)O). This may result in exporters being audited.

Where a breach of legislation is identified the department (including the compliance team) will investigate and take appropriate sanctions. These sanctions can include prosecution where there is evidence of an offence.

Some of the regulatory actions and sanctions available under the Act are listed in Attachment 1.

Application

Inspection and verification activities

Where non-compliance with legislation, or approved arrangement is identified during inspection and verification activities, the authorised officer can take immediate regulatory action to ensure that non-compliant product does not continue to be produced or exported.

The authorised officer can:

  1. apply a disposition to animal(s), carcase(s), carcase part(s), meat and meat product(s) for export in line with the Australian Meat Standard and/or;
  2. stop the chain temporarily or control the rate of operations to accurately perform inspection, decision or disposition functions (Order 70.2 EC(MMP)O) and/or;
  3. retain for the purpose of inspection (Order 72 EC(MMP)O), and/or;
  4. direct an exporter (Order 76.3 EC(MMP)O).

Where the finding requires less immediate action or is a precursor to non-compliance the authorised officer will notify the occupier or exporter (or their representative) of the finding for consideration in the establishment’s management system.

Monthly Periodic Audit activities (Part 6 Division II EC(MMP)O) – Australian Government Meat Establishment Verification System

During an audit, departmental officers have a role as both an auditor and a regulator. As an audit is a fact finding process that is facilitated by the establishment, if a departmental officer detects a non-compliance, in their role as an auditor, which requires regulatory action the departmental officer must notify the auditee (occupier, exporter or their representative) that the audit is suspended prior to gathering further evidence or applying regulatory action under the legislation.

Audit findings, including non-compliance, will be notified to the occupier and/or the exporter immediately on ending the audit. A written audit report will be provided to the occupier and/or exporter. The audit report may include recommendations to take action i.e. a CAR.

The On Plant Veterinary Officer will notify the Area Technical Manager (ATM) and the occupier (or their representative) of audit findings from verification activities that indicate a systemic non-compliance in the implementation of the Approved Arrangement or the legislation. The ATM will assess this notification and may issue a written notification for the occupier to show cause as to why the ATM should not recommend an additional systems audit.

Systems Audit activities (Part 6 Division II EC(MMP)O) – Australian Government Meat Establishment Systems Audit Program.

During an audit, departmental officers have a role as both an auditor and a regulator. As an audit is a fact finding process that is facilitated by the establishment, if a departmental officer detects a non-compliance, in their role as an auditor, which requires regulatory action the departmental officer must notify the auditee (occupier, exporter or their representative) that the audit is suspended prior to gathering further evidence or applying regulatory action under the legislation.

Audit findings, including non-compliance, will be notified to the occupier and/or the exporter immediately on ending the audit. A written audit report will be provided to the occupier and/or exporter. The audit report may include recommendations to take action i.e. a corrective action request.

Critical non-compliance

In the case of a critical non-compliance at audit the auditor is required to notify the Secretary (or their delegate) immediately. This critical non-compliance and the evidence used by the auditor to form the opinion are to be notified to the occupier or exporter (or their representative). The department is also required, under service delivery agreements, to notify the appropriate state regulatory authority of any significant non-compliance or breach to requirements.

The authorised officer, who either conducted the audit or was notified of the non-compliance by the auditor, will take regulatory action by:

  1. applying a disposition to animal(s), carcase(s), carcase part(s), meat and meat product(s) for export in line with the Australian Meat Standard and/or;
  2. stopping the chain temporarily or control the rate of operations to accurately perform inspection, decision or disposition functions (Order 70.2 EC(MMP)O) and/or;
  3. retaining for the purpose of inspection (Order 72 EC(MMP)O), and/or;
  4. directing an exporter (Order 76.3 EC(MMP)O)
  5. varying the Approved Arrangement (whole or in part) to ensure compliance with the EC(MMP)O. An example of a variation to the approved arrangement is to withdraw approval of the use of official marks.

This regulatory action is to ensure non-compliant product does not continue to be produced or exported.
The department authorised officer, with the appropriate delegation, will issue written notification to the occupier or exporter of the regulatory action they will be recommending the Secretary (or delegate) take. This action can be to:

  1. vary the Approved Arrangement (whole or in part) to ensure compliance with the EC(MMP)O and/or;
  2. change the frequency of audit and/or;
  3. request the occupier to show cause as to why the Approved Arrangement (whole or part) should not be suspended or revoked and/or;
  4. revoke export permit(s) and government certificate where product already certified is not in compliance with the certification requirements and/or;
  5. request the occupier to show cause as to why the registration should not be suspended or revoked or
  6. immediately suspend an Approved Arrangement or registration where a significant/serious food safety, animal welfare, product integrity or market access risk occurs.

This written notification will be provided at the same time as the audit report. To meet their obligation to comply with the legislation, the occupier of the establishment should respond providing details of how they will rectify the non-compliance set out in the written notification and the accompanying audit report.

This information should be sent to the specified Field Operations Manager (FOM) in the form of a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). The CAP must be agreed between the department and the occupier. The FOM will respond to the CAP within 3 working days. The occupier will be provided 2 weeks to respond to the initial written notification and audit report. Until an agreed CAP is in place the regulatory action will be maintained to ensure non-compliant product does not continue to be produced or exported.

In order for the occupier to continue production and/or export they may request to have increased departmental presence conducting increased verification to provide assurance of compliance.
A subsequent verification audit of the CAP will occur within two operating weeks of the agreed CAP and will be conduct by a FOM. A further systems audit will occur within three months of the close out of the CAP.

If the CAP or its implementation does not demonstrate consistent compliance with the legislation, the Secretary (or delegate) will write to the occupier suspending the Approved Arrangement (either in whole or part).

When the Approved Arrangement is suspended

The suspension of an Approved Arrangement relates only to the part of the arrangement that is not in compliance with the requirements of the EC(MMP)O. If the operational deficiency affects importing country requirements the Secretary (or delegate) will suspend the parts of the Approved Arrangement applicable to that market, ‘delisting’ the establishment from the market. Suspending part of an Approved Arrangement demonstrates that the department does not have confidence in the occupier to produce product for that particular export market. Therefore, the department will be unable to certify product from the establishment.

The occupier may choose to have increased departmental presence to perform the functions suspended or to conduct increased verification to provide market assurance to allow the occupier to continue producing for export. This action allows the remaining parts of the Approved Arrangement to function. This allocation of inspection services with be provided in line with Schedule 10 of the EC(MMP)O.

The Secretary (or delegate) will require the occupier to take action if the Approved Arrangement is suspended. This action could include the recall of meat or meat products where a direct threat to public health or trade partnerships is demonstrated. The Secretary (or delegate) will require the occupier to re-establish consistent compliance with the legislation This will be confirmed through monthly verification audits of the CAP, for three months period of suspension of the Approved Arrangement (or part thereof). The initial CAP verification audit will be conducted by a FOM with the subsequent monthly verification audits being conducted by the resident ATM. A further systems audit will occur within three months of the close out of the CAP.

If the occupier is unable to demonstrate consistent compliance with the legislation at CAP verification audits, the Approved Arrangement will be revoked. Subsequently the registration of the establishment will cease to have effect within 12months, when the registration lapses as the establishment will not be eligible for renewal. (Clause 27.1 Schedule 1 EC(MMP)O).

The authority to suspend or revoke an Approved Arrangement in whole or part is delegated by the Secretary only to an authorised officer within the Senior Executive Service in the department with responsibility for the certification of meat exports.

When a suspension or revocation is applied, the Secretary (or delegate) must inform the occupier of their appeal rights under the legislation within the written notification.

Port of Entry Notifications

Both the department, occupiers and exporters receive rejection notifications from importing countries for a variety of reasons. These notifications can be of a non-compliance and/or breach of the legislation (including the importing country requirements). As the regulator, the department has an obligation to investigate these non-compliances, as does the occupier through their commitment to meet the legislated requirements. It is highly recommended that occupiers take immediate corrective and preventative action to address notifications. Importing countries may take action directly or seek action by the occupier and/or the department. The level of investigation by the department will depend on the level of non-compliance and the request from the importing country. If a critical non-compliance is identified in the investigation, regulatory action and/or sanction will be taken.

Complaints/Redline Calls

The department receives notifications from other stakeholders of non-compliance and/or breaches of the legislation. As the regulator the department has an obligation to investigate these non-compliances. The level of investigation by the department will depend on the level of non-compliance. If a critical non-compliance is identified in the investigation, regulatory action and/or sanction will be taken.

Fees

In accordance with the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines the department’s export certification services, including regulation, are provided to industry under a fully cost recovered arrangement. Information on export fees and charges​.

Related material

Export Control Act 1982
Export Control (Orders) Regulations 1982
Export Control (Prescribed Goods - General) Order 2005
Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Orders 2005
Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production of Meat and Meat Products AS 4696:2002
Approved Arrangement Guidelines
Australian Government Meat Establishment Systems Audit Program
Australian Government Meat Establishment Verification System

Attachment 1: Compliance actions and Sanctions available under the Export Control Act 1982


Compliance actions and SanctionLegislative ReferenceDepartment of Agriculture and Water Resources​ officer/delegate who can make this decision

Corrective Action Request

EC(MMP)O 2005, Order 61.5

61.5 Without limiting the matters that the report may contain, the report may contain recommendations to take the following action:

  1. action to address the fact a requirement is not complied with or is not likely to be complied with;
  2. action designed to ensure that the failure to comply with the requirement or the likelihood it is not complied with does not recur;
  3. action to assess the effectiveness of the action referred to in paragraphs 61.5 (a) and 61.5 (b).

Auditor

Variation in Approved Arrangement

EC(MMP)O 2005, Schedule 1, , Clause 16

Variations required by the Secretary

16.1 The Secretary may give an occupier a written notice requiring the occupier to submit a variation of the occupier’s approved arrangement if:

  1. circumstances relating to the preparation of meat or meat products at the establishment change; or
  2. an importing country requirement changes; or
  3. the Secretary is not satisfied that compliance with the controls specified in the approved arrangement will ensure that the matters specified in subparagraphs 5.1 (e) (i) and 5.1 (e) (ii) of this Schedule are complied with.
16.2 The notice must:
  1. specify the variation required; and
  2. specify the period within which the variation must be submitted to the Secretary.

16.3 The Secretary may give the occupier a written notice approving the variation submitted.

16.4 An occupier who is given a notice under subclause 16.1 must ensure the action specified in the notice is taken within the period specified.

Auditor

Show Cause Letter/written notification

Required by administrative law principles. This requirement maybe displaced in certain circumstances..

 

 

Audit frequency and intensity

 

EC(MMP)O 2005 Order 58

Audit frequency and intensity

58.1 The Secretary may by giving written notice to an occupier of an establishment, an exporter or holder of an approved arrangement for certification operations specify the frequency and intensity of audits of their operations.

Note:  For the meaning of holder of an approved arrangement see suborder 8.1 and for the certification of Halal meat see Part 3 of Schedule 7.

58.2 The Secretary may vary the notice by giving a further written notice to the person to whom the first notice is given.

58.3 Suborders 58.1 and 58.2 do not preclude the Secretary from specifying in the conditions of any applicable approved arrangement the frequency and intensity of audits required.

58.4 An audit may be unannounced.

SES

Unannounced audit

EC(MMP)O 2005, Order 58.4
58.4 An audit may be unannounced.

FOM

Suspension or revocation of Approved Arrangement in full or in part

(e.g. including removal of listings)

EC(MMP)O 2005, Schedule 1, Clause 20

When the Secretary may suspend or revoke approval

20.1 The Secretary may, by written notice to the occupier of an establishment, suspend or revoke the approval of an arrangement for the establishment given under clause 5 of this Schedule if the Secretary has reasonable grounds to believe that:

  1. the occupier of the establishment has failed to comply with a requirement of the Act, these Orders, the occupier’s approved arrangement or a condition of the approved arrangement; or
  2. compliance with the controls specified in the approved arrangement is unreliable or not effective in ensuring that the matters specified in subclauses 5.1 (e) (i) and 5.1 (e) (ii) of this Schedule are met; or
  3. the occupier of the establishment ceases operations to prepare meat and meat products for export for food for a period of 12 months; or
  4. a person referred to in clause 18.1 (a) makes a statement that is:
    1. false, misleading, or incomplete; or
    2. for which there is no sound basis for making the statement;

      in an application or other document or information given to the Secretary or required to be given under the Act, these Orders, the occupier’s approved arrangement, or a condition of the approved arrangement; or

  5. the occupier has failed to make available to an authorized officer a document that, under the Act, these Orders, the occupier’s approved arrangement, or a condition of the approved arrangement, the occupier is required to keep; or
  6. the occupier has failed to:
    1. consent to access to the occupier’s establishment for the purpose of the performance of audit or other functions of a authorized officer under these Orders; or
    2. provide the assistance referred to in orders 59 or 74; or
  7. an authorized officer is prevented, by use of force, obstruction or intimidation, from exercising his or her powers or functions under the Act or these Orders at the establishment

    Note 1   It is a requirement of these Orders to comply an importing country requirement, see order 34.

    Note 2   For penal provisions relating to requirements to give information or documents to an authorized officer or the Secretary see Part III, Division 7 of the Act.

    20.2 The Secretary may revoke the approval of an arrangement that is suspended on grounds that are the same as or similar to the grounds for the suspension.

    20.3 The revocation or suspension has effect:

    1. when written notice of it is given to the occupier of the establishment; or
    2. on a later day specified in the notice.

      Please note listings are a policy provision as such the removal of listing is through either the suspension/revocation of the approved arrangement or on advice from importing countries.

SES

Restrictions on issuing a government certificate

EC(MMP)O 2005, Schedule 8, Clauses 15.1 and 15.3

15.1 A government certificate for meat or meat products must not be issued under clause 14 of this Schedule if the Secretary is satisfied that:

  1. an export permit has not been given for the meat or meat products or the permit given has ceased to have effect; or
  2. information given to the Secretary in, or in connection with the application for the certificate is inaccurate or incomplete or does not have a sound basis; or
  3. a condition or disease that is likely to affect the acceptability of meat and meat products to the importing country is present in Australia; or
  4. the export of the meat or meat products could result in trade in the export from Australia of goods being adversely affected.

    Note: For cancellation of a government certificate by the Secretary see subsection 23 (3) of the Act: Certificate with respect to goods: (3) The Secretary may cancel such a certificate if the Secretary is satisfied that the information contained in that certificate is incorrect in a significant respect.

15.3 A government certificate need not be issued for meat and meat products under clause 14 if the Secretary is satisfied that:
  1. the exporter of the meat and meat products has failed to consent to the access to the exporter’s business premises for the purpose of audit or has failed to provide the assistance referred to in order 59; or
  2. the exporter has failed to comply with the requirements of Part 5 of these Orders or order 78.

SES

Suspension or revocation of Registration

EC(MMP)O 2005, Schedule 1, Clause 18

When the Secretary may suspend or revoke a registration

18.1 The Secretary may, by written notice to the occupier of an establishment, suspend or revoke the registration of the establishment in whole or in part if the Secretary has reasonable grounds to believe that:

  1. that any of the following persons is not or ceases to be a fit and proper person having regard to the matters specified in section 4.05 of the Export Control (Prescribed Goods — General) Order 2005:
    1. if the occupier is a partnership — a member of the partnership;
    2. a person who manages or controls the operations carried out at the establishment; or
  2. the occupier of the establishment has failed to comply with a condition of the registration (other than a condition to which clause 19 of this Schedule applies); or
  3. a person referred to in paragraph 18.1(a) has made a statement that is:
    1. false, misleading, or incomplete; or
    2. for which there is no sound basis for making the statement;
      in an application for registration or other document or information given to the Secretary in relation to the registration or a condition of the registration; or
  4. the occupier has failed to make available to an authorized officer a document that, under a condition of the registration, the occupier is required to keep.
18.2 The Secretary may, by written notice to the occupier of an establishment, suspend or revoke the registration of the establishment if:
  1. the occupier; or
  2. a person who manages or controls;
    is convicted of a serious offence.

    18.3 The written notice referred to in subclauses 18.1 and 18.2 must specify that the approval of the approved arrangement is also suspended or revoked in whole or in respect to the part concerned (as the case may be).
18.4 The revocation or suspension of the registration and the approval of the approved arrangement has effect:
  1. when notice of it is given to the occupier of the establishment; or
  2. on a later day specified in the notice.

SES