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Food Manufacturing and Retail

Food manufacturing and retail is a diverse sector encompassing the production and sale of food and beverages (including alcohol).

Almost 16,000 businesses are involved in food manufacturing in Australia, ranging from some of the largest multinational companies to small and medium-sized enterprises. Key sales channels include retail, food service providers such as cafes and restaurants, and quick-serve (fast-food) restaurants.

Consumers are becoming more discerning and increasingly educated about food and nutrition, resulting in changing dietary preferences and greater demands for high-quality products. For example, consumption of minimally processed foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, has risen substantially in recent decades.

These products are at greater risk of contamination, including from microbes that have developed antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Untreatable microbial diseases in food produce can result in lower yields, affecting the ability to supply downstream producers with the ingredients needed to manufacture a range of consumer-facing foods.

Reviews of several food sectors have shown little to no presence of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, but information on the extent of AMR contaminants across the food chain supply ranges from limited to non-existent, depending on product type.

In line with its approach to food safety, this sector needs to remain proactive in developing robust and cost-effective tools to detect, quantify and manage AMR contaminants across supply chains, from production to retail. Understanding its AMR risk will enable the sector to gauge the need for upgrades to current best practices to meet future food regulations, as well as quality and AMR safety requirements. Mainstreaming the use of surveillance tools will also enhance food traceability and provenance.