Property risk assessment

What is a property risk assessment?

To ensure the integrity of your product, you must undertake a risk assessment of your property and document the results to ensure animals are not exposed to:

  • Contaminated sites
  • Physical contaminants

Why do a property risk assessment?

If livestock come in contact with persistent chemicals, the meat they produce may contain unacceptably high chemical residues which may impact on food safety and market access.

Physical contaminants such as wire could cause harm to animals and people if they become lodged in meat tissue.

Repercussions of selling livestock with unacceptable levels of persistent chemicals may include failure to be paid for the livestock, and possible legal liability for the resulting costs faced by processors and the rest of the supply chain. 

What are persistent chemicals and where are they found?

Persistent chemicals are substances such as organochlorine pesticides (OCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, arsenic and cadmium. They stay in the environment and may impact on human health, the environment, and trade. Persistent chemicals can be found in sites such as:

  • Rubbish dumps
  • Old stock yards and dip sites
  • Chemical storage sheds
  • Machinery
  • Power poles
  • Paddocks that have grown OC-treated crops

Livestock should not have access to such sites.  Areas contaminated with persistent chemicals may have to be managed for decades, depending on the chemical involved, climate and soil type.

Which are the predominant persistent chemicals on Australia farms?

Organochlorine pesticides (OCs): Previously used for a range of agricultural, horticultural and pest control uses.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):Historically added to transformer oils, electrical capacitors and some hydraulic oils as fire retardants.

Lead:Old batteries are the most common source of lead poisoning for farm animals, also through stock having access to lead sources such as sump oil or old lead-based paint, commercial painted surfaces, 200L drums, machinery, sheds, old baths etc

Arsenic:Old arsenic compounds discarded in farm rubbish tips or kept in old buildings

Cadmium: Occurs naturally in some soils, present in some phosphate fertilisers (particularly those made from rock phosphate or guano of marine origin).

What are physical contaminants?

These include items such as broken needles, buckshot and wire which may work their way into the meat.

How do I conduct a property risk assessment?

You must complete a risk assessment table and property risk map, and update these with any new potential risks on your property that may occur through changing activities. Use the checklist to ensure you have considered all risks.

Note: Keep records for a minimum of three years, in accordance with State legisilation or for the duration of the livestock on the PIC, whichever is longer. Risk assessment documentation must be retained indefinitely.

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