Beef and beef products

​Refer to Imported Food Notice 09-18 for details on recent updates to this web page.

Reference BEF 08/2018

Biosecurity requirements

All imported beef and beef products for human consumption imported into Australia must comply with Australia’s biosecurity and food safety requirements.

Check the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) to determine if the food you intend to import requires an import permit or a treatment or if it must meet any other biosecurity conditions. All biosecurity requirements must be met before Imported Food Inspection Scheme requirements apply.

Imported Food Inspection Scheme risk food

Beef and beef products for human consumption are classified as risk food as these foods are associated with hazards that pose an increased risk to human health. Beef and beef products have been grouped below based on the product type, risk management requirements for that product type and the testing to be applied at the border.

Beef includes meat, bone and offal of cattle, buffalo and bison.

A beef product is a food prepared from or containing beef (whether cooked or uncooked and whether or not chilled or frozen).

For information on the requirements applicable to the beef and beef products you are importing, select the group that applies to your product.

Importers and brokers must ensure that the goods description or other lodged documentation (for example, manufacturer’s declaration) accurately describes the beef and beef products. The clearer the information the easier it will be for the department to assess and exclude tests that may be inappropriate or not required.

Food excluded from this testing

  • milk
  • dairy products
  • gelatine and collagen derived from bovine skins and hides
  • edible bovine fats and bovine tallows included as a minor ingredient (less than 30 per cent) of a processed product.

Under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme, bone derived gelatine and collagen (including sausage casings) are not targeted as risk food. However, these products can only be sourced from countries that have had their BSE food safety risk assessed and a satisfactory BSE risk status assigned by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. A compliant government certificate must accompany the goods and be presented to the department upon request.

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Risk food sampling for all beef and beef products

When goods are referred for inspection and testing, an authorised officer:

  • will request and assess the required certificate/s for compliance
  • may inspect the goods to verify that they match certificate details and the broker’s full import declaration information
  • will take samples for each product type (where applicable)
  • will take five sample units per lot for analysis (where applicable), except for STEC where 15 samples will be taken per lot (where applicable).

Group 1 - All beef and beef products, excluding products in group 2 or group 3

Beef and beef products that are risk food for group 1

  • All beef and beef products, excluding:
    • products described in group 2 and group 3
    • products not permitted under BSE and biosecurity restrictions such as brain and spinal tissue, blood and blood products, reproductive organs and natural casings.

Hazard testing

Table 1 shows risk food tests applied to imported beef and beef products in group 1.

Table 1 Hazard test applied and permitted results for beef and beef products - group 1

Hazard

Test applied

Permitted result

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)

National competent authority certificate from a country permitted to trade and includes mandatory declaration.

Product accompanied by necessary documentation and compliant with ‘Bovine spongiform encephalopathy food safety requirements for imported beef and beef products for human consumption’.

Group 2 - All raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products, excluding products in group 3

Beef and beef products that are risk food for group 2

  • All raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products, including carcasses, whole muscle meat and bone-in cuts from BSE and biosecurity approved countries, excluding
    • products described in group 3 (non intact cuts (e.g. mince and trim) and offal)
    • products not permitted under BSE and biosecurity restrictions such as brain and spinal tissue, blood and blood products, reproductive organs and natural casings.

Mandatory government certification for raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products

To ensure food safety requirements, including BSE are met, imports of raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products, must be covered by a recognised foreign government certificate. Imports will also be subject to microbiological verification testing.

Foreign government certification requirements for raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products, including approved countries, can be found at the ‘Foreign government arrangements under the Imported Food Control Act 1992’ webpage.

Hazard testing

Table 2 shows risk food tests applied to raw (chilled or frozen) imported beef and beef products.

Table 2 Hazard, tests applied and permitted results for raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products – group 2

Hazard

Test applied

Permitted result

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and, microbiological contamination during primary processing

National competent authority certificate from a country permitted to trade.

Product accompanied by a recognised foreign government certificate.

Microorganisms

E. coli/ g

n

c

m

M

5

3

10

100

Label and composition assessment

Food Standards Code chapters 1 and 2

Visual assessment

Imported Food Control Act 1992 section 3(2)(a)(vii) and 3(2)(b)

n = the minimum number of sample units which must be examined from a lot of food.
c = the maximum allowable number of defective sample units i.e. that have counts between ‘m’ and ‘M’.
m = the acceptable microbiological level in a sample unit.
M = the level which when exceeded (i.e. the level is greater than M) in one or more samples would cause the lot to be rejected

Group 3 - Raw (chilled or frozen) ground beef and ground beef products or beef trim for grinding and offal

Beef and beef products that are risk food for group 3

  • Ground raw (chilled or frozen) beef or beef trim for grinding and offal excluding
    • products not permitted under BSE and biosecurity restrictions such as brain and spinal tissue, blood and blood products, reproductive organs and natural casings.

Mandatory government certification for raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products

To ensure food safety requirements, including BSE are met, imports of raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products, must be covered by a recognised foreign government certificate. Imports will also be subject to microbiological verification testing.
Foreign government certification requirements for raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products, including approved countries, can be found at the ‘Foreign government arrangements under the Imported Food Control Act 1992’ webpage.

Hazard testing

Table 3 shows risk food tests applied to raw chilled or frozen ground beef and ground beef products, beef trim for grinding and offal.

Table 3 Hazard, test applied and permitted results for raw chilled or frozen ground beef and ground beef products, beef trim for grinding and offal – group 3

Hazard

Test applied

Permitted result

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and, microbiological contamination during primary processing

National competent authority certificate from a country permitted to trade.

Product accompanied by a recognised foreign government certificate.

Microorganisms

E. coli/ g

n

c

m

M

5

3

100

1000

Salmonella spp/25 g

n

c

m

5

0

0

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)/ g

STECs (026, 045, 0103, 0111, 0121, 0145, 0157)


n

c

m

15

0

0

Label and composition assessment

Food Standards Code chapters 1 and 2

Visual assessment

Imported Food Control Act 1992 section 3(2)(a)(vii) and 3(2)(b)

n = the minimum number of sample units which must be examined from a lot of food.
c = the maximum allowable number of defective sample units i.e. that have counts between ‘m’ and ‘M’.
m = the acceptable microbiological level in a sample unit.
M = the level which when exceeded (i.e. the level is greater than M) in one or more samples would cause the lot to be rejected

Imports from New Zealand

Conditions for imports of beef and beef products from New Zealand are currently under review. Until the review has been finalised, the current arrangements remain in effect. Requirements are specified on the BSE food safety requirements for beef for human consumption webpage.

Version history

Date

Amendment details

17/08/18BEF 08/2018Updated to include requirements for raw (chilled or frozen) beef and beef products

01/05/2014

BEF 05/2014

Replaces Imported Food Notice 09/12 Tests applied to risk category foods