Fact Sheet for Authorised Officers (AAOs)

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department) is currently consulting with industry leaders to implement a policy enabling the full uptake of the Australian Government Authorised Officer (AAO) model across all export meat establishments. On 27 November 2020, the department begun direct engagement with impacted export establishments on this change. Policies on this website will be updated once this engagement process has concluded.

In brief, the forward policy will see the department no longer providing Food Safety Meat Assessors (FSMAs) where the function could otherwise be provided through the use of AAOs. Instead the department will only continue to provide a government veterinarian and a FSMA who will undertake the final disposition of product at each export meat establishment in accordance with market access requirements (e.g. USA).

Information herein reflects the current policy and will be updated once the new policy is finalised.

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What is the ‘Independent Employer of AAOs Accreditation Scheme’?

It is a scheme developed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to provide for the employment of Australian Government Authorised Officers (AAOs) by independent employment providers. Under the Scheme, agencies supply AAOs to Australian export slaughter establishments to meet EU standards.

Why is the department running the Scheme?

Many countries accept product prepared to the Australian Standards, however where there are additional requirements, the department will develop programs to facilitate trade to those markets.

The European Union requires that post-mortem inspections are performed by inspectors employed by a party other than the food business operation. Therefore to export product to that market, AAOs must be sourced from an Independent AAO Employer.

Who can employ an AAO?

AAOs can be employed by an export registered abattoir or labour hire provider (e.g. independent AAO employer).

For the EU market, AAOs must be employed by an independent AAO employer approved by the department to supply AAOs.

Can an AAO be employed by an Independent AAO Employer and an export meat company at the same time?

No. An AAO must be paid by the Independent AAO Employer at all times for whatever work they do at a meat establishment and cannot at any time work directly for or be paid by the meat establishment e.g. Not even in an off season.

How will my role be different working for an IAE?

The primary function is still to perform meat inspection activities. You may undertake other tasks reasonably considered to be associated with the meat inspection skills and role detailed in departmental work instructions. It may include such tasks as preparing material for inspection, trimming defects, ageing animals through dentition and disposing of inspected materials. Activities such as butchering or labouring are outside the scope of these associated activities and therefore would not be acceptable tasks to be performed by an AAO.

Where can I find information about the Scheme?

Information on the application process for AAOs, including the application form and the Independent Employer of AAOs Accreditation Scheme is available on the department’s website.

Further Information

To find out more on this initiative including the AAO approval process, mandatory qualifications and how to contact an Independent AAO Employer, please visit the Independent Employer of AAOs Accreditation Scheme webpage on the department’s website.

Departmental Contacts: AAO Coordinator, Meat Export Branch.

Email: aao@awe.gov.au 
Telephone: 02 6272 3933

Last reviewed: 27 April 2021
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