Key messages

  • The Food Atlas helps regulators associate risk with foods and preparation processes that are unique to different cultural groups.
  • The Food Atlas uses a three-tier risk rating based on the pH and water activity of certain foods.
  • The Food Atlas should be used as a guide only, and not for enforcement purposes.

Cultural practices associated with food are extremely varied. Regulators may have little knowledge of the ingredients or processes that are unique to foods from different cultural groups. Regulators may find it hard to assess the risk the food might pose to public health.

The Food Atlas provides users with:

  • an understanding of foods from different cultures
  • an overview of various foods, including the manufacturing process, the ingredients and the associated risk rating of the foods
  • food sampling proformas to help further develop the resource as new foods emerge.

Food Atlas risk rating

The risk rating of each food has been determined by analysing the food’s pH and water activity (aw) in laboratories. This rating does not take into consideration the possible presence of preservatives and other growth inhibitors in the products.

Foods are divided into three categories:

  • high-risk foods, which can support growth of pathogenic microorganisms
  • medium-risk foods, which have a pH and aw that may inhibit growth of pathogenic microorganisms
  • low-risk foods, which have pH and aw that inhibit pathogenic growth and toxin production.

High and medium-risk foods should be kept under temperature control. Where high- and medium-risk foods are unable to be kept under temperature control, the 2–4-hour rule must be applied, as explained in the department’s food safety program template.

Food Atlas limitations

The samples were not analysed to provide a complete chemical or microbiological representation of the various foods tested. The risk rating assumes that foods are produced and handled using good manufacturing and food handling practices.

Note that the pH and aw of the foods represented may vary, depending on the manufacturing processes used.

For these reasons, the Food Atlas should be referenced as a guidance information source and not solely for enforcement purposes.

You need a password to access the Food atlas.

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