Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Food Safety Supervisor?
All food businesses in certain states and territories of Australia (NSW, QLD, VIC, ACT) must have a Food Safety Supervisor if they serve:
- Ready-to-eat food,
- Potentially hazardous food, or
- Food not sold and served in its package.
Food Safety Supervisors contribute to a food business in many ways. They can:
Play a Pivotal Role in a Food Business
Food safety is the foundation of a successful food business. A Food Safety Supervisor’s purpose is to optimise food safety in a business, building it into work practices to improve efficiency and prevent cases of food-borne illness in customers.
In 2006, OzFoodNet estimated that 5.4 million cases of food-borne illnesses occur each year in Australia, costing an estimated $1.2 billion per annum.
To reduce food-borne illness in the community, state law in NSW, QLD, VIC and ACT decrees that most food businesses must have a trained Food Safety Supervisor with their staff at all times. Businesses who do not comply with this law risk a fine.
As Australia has some of the most stringent food safety laws in the world, employing someone who can decode and apply these laws practically to your business is vital.
Use Skills and Training to Protect and Improve a Food Business
To become a Food Safety Supervisor in Australia, you must undertake a Food Safety Supervisor course.
Once you have completed the course, you will become fully qualified as a Food Safety Supervisor. You will receive a nationally recognised Statement of Attainment demonstrating your knowledge and expertise.
Food Safety Supervisors can use the knowledge from this course to:
- Protect customers from food-borne illnesses
- Manage physical, chemical and biological hazards in the workplace to protect workers
- Train and supervise staff in the safe preparation of food
- Devise a Food Safety Program to improve workplace efficiency
- Build a Food Safety Plan in alignment with Australian law, tailored for the business
- Ensure that all deliveries from suppliers are safe and stored correctly
- Serve as a point of contact for local government
- Prepare the business for the event of a food safety emergency
Incorporating food safety management into your everyday business will improve productivity, increase efficiency, and reduce waste.
Most importantly, having an employee trained as a Food Safety Supervisor will provide assurance of your business’ quality to customers.
What will I receive at the end of my Food Safety Supervisor Course?
Once you have successfully completed your Food Safety Supervisor course, you will receive a Statement of Attainment which lists the units of competency relevant to your industry. These are:
SIRRFSA001 Apply Retail Food Safety Practices
SITXFSA001 Use hygienic practices for food safety
SITXFSA002 Participate in safe food handling practices
TRANSPORT & DISTRIBUTION
SITXFSA001 Use hygienic practices for food safety
SITXFSA002 Participate in safe food handling practices
HEALTH & COMMUNITY
HLTFSE001 Follow basic food safety practices
HLTFSE005 Apply and monitor food safety requirements
HLTFSE007 Oversee the day-to-day implementation of food safety in the workplace
FBPFSY1001 Follow work procedures to maintain food safety
FBPFSY2001 Implement the food safety program and procedures
If you have completed the New South Wales Food Safety Supervisor course, you will also receive a NSW Food Authority Food Safety Supervisor certificate.
Your Statement of Attainment and the NSW Certificate for those students in the NSW course will be emailed out to you within two business days of you being marked as competent. We also post the hard copies of these certificates to you, along with a printed display certificate that lists the name of the course that you completed.
Do I need more than one Food Safety Supervisor?
Not necessarily. If you’re required by law to have a Food Safety Supervisor on staff, it usually only means one per premises.
But, because you still need to make sure your business is covered and has a qualified Food Safety Supervisor who is reasonably available, an ideal option would be to hire more than one.
The ‘reasonably available’ requirement says that while the Food Safety Supervisor doesn’t have to be on the premises for every hour that the business if open, they must be available to be contacted by both the business's employees and local health authorities.
So, if your business has long operating hours or your Food Safety Supervisor is sick or goes on holidays, having another staff member who is also qualified can help meet this requirement.
Do you need a Food Safety Supervisor in Melbourne?
Because food businesses in Melbourne are all so different, there isn’t one set of rules for everyone. However, most food businesses will require at least one Food Safety Supervisor to be employed.
Local councils judge the Food Safety Supervisor requirements of each food business on a case-by-case basis. The main factors they look at are – the types of high-risk foods being prepared and the chance of the business’s food making someone sick.
If foods are considered high-risk, it means they have a higher chance of rapid bacteria growth. Some examples of high-risk foods include meat, dairy products, seafood and poultry. So, if you use these types of foods in your business, then you will most likely have to nominate a Food Safety Supervisor.
If your food business does need a Food Safety Supervisor before you complete your training, it’s a good idea to contact your local food authority - usually your local council - and check which food industry your business falls under. This lets you know which industry your Food Safety Supervisor training needs to cover, and ensures that you complete the right course.
Does a Food Safety Supervisor have to be on the premises at all times?
No, not necessarily – however, they must be able to be contacted at all times, by both the food handlers in the business and also the authority responsible for regulating the business in food safety.
Because food businesses can be open long hours and your Food Safety Supervisor might be sick or away on holidays, to help make sure that your business is better covered, it’s a good idea to have more than one Food Safety Supervisor.
It’s also important to note that a Food Safety Supervisor can generally only work for one business, in one location, at any time. So, if you own a franchise store or something similar, you will still have to nominate your own Food Safety Supervisor.
What is the role of a Food Safety Supervisor?
The role of a Food Safety Supervisor is to manage the overall food safety of a business. This typically includes:
- Being aware of all relevant food safety legislation and standards that are applicable to the food business.
- Monitoring all food handlers to make sure that all food handling tasks are properly and safely carried out.
- Knowing how to recognise, prevent and alleviate food safety hazards in the food business.
- Ensuring that food handlers maintain safe personal hygiene.
- Ensuring that a business’s food safety program is up-to-date and accurately maintained.
- Completing all required training and holding the necessary statement of attainment or certificate
- Being ‘reasonably available’ to the business’s food handlers and its local council during operating hours.
What is the role of a Food Safety Supervisor in Brisbane?
The role of a Food Safety Supervisor in Brisbane is to maintain food safety in a business and minimise the chance of people becoming sick as a result of incorrectly handled or prepared food.
Food Safety Supervisors achieve this by ensuring that all food handlers receive the proper training, so that food handling tasks are correctly carried out. The role of a Food Safety Supervisor in Brisbane is also to monitor the food handlers themselves and to ensure they maintain a high level of personal hygiene.
According to the Queensland Department of Health, the Food Safety Supervisor of a food business is a person who:
- Knows how to recognise, prevent and alleviate food safety hazards in the food business.
- Has skills and knowledge in matters relating to food safety relevant to the food business.
- Has the authority to supervise and give directions about matters relating to food safety to persons who handle food in the food business.
- Is ‘reasonably available’ to be contacted by the local government that issued the licence and persons who handle food in the food business while the food business is being carried on.
The Food Safety Supervisor also has to maintain the business’s Food Safety Program. This is a live document, which always has to be kept up-to-date. It typically includes food safety records such as – temperature logs, cleaning schedules, pest control logs and any other relevant food safety documents.
The reasonably available requirement
Because a Food Safety Supervisor can’t be expected to always be on the premises, the requirement is that they’re ‘reasonably available’. This means that if they’re not on the premises, they still have to be contactable by all food handlers in the business, as well as its local council.
Also, please note though that although the Food Safety Supervisor is responsible for the overall food safety of a business, they’re not responsible for performing ALL food safety tasks in the business. Maintaining food safety in a business is the responsibility of all staff.
What training does a Food Safety Supervisor need?
Handy tip: Food Safety Supervisor training is industry specific so be sure to find out which course you need.
To perform the role of a Food Safety Supervisor, you’ll most likely have to complete a nationally recognised training course. Food Safety Supervisor training is different for each of the food industry sectors - hospitality, food processing, health and community and retail. So, before choosing a course, it's important to find out which industry your business falls under.
Food Safety Supervisor training teaches you the advanced skills needed to:
- Oversee the food safety of a business
- Protect customers from foodborne illnesses
- Design and maintain a Food Safety Program
- Manage physical, chemical and biological hazards in the workplace
- Train employees in food safety
- Ensure transparency and safety in the food supply chain - for example, checking that all deliveries from suppliers are safe and stored correctly
- Serve as a point of contact for local government
- Prepare the business for the event of a food safety emergency, such as a food poisoning incident
Once the appropriate training has been completed you will receive a Statement of Attainment which outlines the units of competency you have achieved.
How do I become a Food Safety Supervisor in NSW?
The Australian Institute of Food Safety is approved to issue the NSW Food Authority Food Safety Supervisor Certificate.
To be qualified as a Food Safety Supervisor in NSW, you will need to complete approved training in the relevant units of competency and hold a current NSW Food Authority Food Safety Supervisor Certificate.
The Food Safety Supervisor must complete either the two hospitality units of competency or the one retail unit of competency, which are listed below:
Retail: SIRRFSA001 Apply Retail Food Safety Practices
Hospitality: SITXFSA001 Use hygienic practices for food safety (previously SITXFSA101 Use hygienic practices for food safety) & SITXFSA002 Participate in safe food handling practices (previously SITXFSA201 Participate in safe food handling practices)
The NSW Food Authority will only recognise training if it’s delivered by an approved Registered Training Organisation (RTO), like the Australian Institute of Food Safety.
How many Food Safety Supervisors do I need for my business?
As a general rule, only one Food Safety Supervisor is needed for each food premises. However, because food businesses often operate long hours or shift work, they’re often advised to employ more than one.
A key legal requirement of a Food Safety Supervisor is that they’re reasonably available at all times. This is to make sure that they’re able to:
- Dispense food safety advice
- Monitor and prevent hazards in the workplace
- Supervise food handling staff, and
- Deal with food safety emergencies and unexpected health inspections
Although this doesn’t mean that the Food Safety Supervisor needs to be on the business premises 24/7, they should be contactable during all hours of business operation.
For more information on the number of Food Safety Supervisors, your business will need, please visit our dedicated article.
Is previous work experience enough to replace Food Safety Supervisor training?
You may have already completed the Food Safety Supervisor units of competency in previous training.
This will depend on a few things. If you live in Queensland, Victoria, NSW or the ACT, and have been told that you need to provide your local council with proof of your Food Safety Supervisor qualification, this needs to be either a Statement of Attainment with the correct units of competency on it, or a NSW Food Safety Supervisor Certificate. In this situation, you need to have completed specific training and previous experience alone is not enough.
However, if you have already completed training which included food safety subjects, for example, a hospitality qualification, may already have completed the training needed to be a Food Safety Supervisor. If this is the case, before beginning any further training, first check any previous qualifications for the specific units of competency you require. Bear in mind though that some units of competency might be superseded or even expired. To check out the current units of competency for each food sector, you can visit the Food Industry Sectors in Australia.
Similarly, Registered Training Organisations engage in recognition of prior learning. This is a process that examines any previous informal or formal education relevant to food safety and hygiene. This assessment can determine whether a person already meets the correct competencies to be a Food Safety Supervisor.
What are a Food Safety Supervisor’s responsibilities?
Food Safety Supervisors have many responsibilities when performing their role and maintaining food safety in a business.
The key responsibilities of a Food Safety Supervisor are:
- Ensuring that the business complies with all relevant food safety standards and codes.
- Keeping the food safety program up-to-date and ensuring all staff know how and when to manage records.
- Performing checks on the business for any breaches of food safety.
- Identifying any potential food safety hazards and putting control measures in place to prevent them.
- Ensuring all staff receive the proper training on the correct food safety practices.
- Monitoring all employees in the workplace are and ensuring that they maintain a high standard of personal hygiene.
- Handling any issues of noncompliance when they arise.
- Acting as a point of contact for all Food Handlers in the business, as well as food safety authorities.
Which food businesses need a Food Safety Supervisor?
Whether a business needs to employ a Food Safety Supervisor will depend on where the business operates as well as what types of food it prepares.
Food businesses in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria are typically required to nominate at least one Food Safety Supervisor.
If your food business is located in one of the other states or territories in Australia, you still have an obligation to make sure that all Food Handlers in your business are appropriately trained in food safety. This is why, even though it’s not a legal requirement, we still recommend that your business has a Food Safety Supervisor.
You can contact your local council for more information about whether your business needs a Food Safety Supervisor. Because it will most likely be responsible for the day-to-day food safety regulation of your business, it’s your local council that’ll decide on the specific requirements for your business.
How do I become a Food Safety Supervisor?
Becoming a Food Safety Supervisor is quite straightforward. You simply need to enrol in and complete a short course.
Many people choose to complete this training online because it’s more convenient than having to take time out from work to attend classroom training.
The Australian Institute of Food Safety offers a nationally recognised Food Safety Supervisor course that covers all industries. This course can be done in as little as a day and meets all legislative requirements for each of the states and territories.
Once you’ve completed the training, you can nominate yourself as the Food Safety Supervisor for your business and let your local food authority know.
For more information and some guidance on other factors to consider, check out 7 Steps to Becoming a Food Safety Supervisor.
I'm now a Food Safety Supervisor. What's next?
If you haven’t already done so, you need to notify the local council that you’re the nominated Food Safety Supervisor for the business where you work. This might be something that you do, or it might be done by your employer.
Or, if you’re starting a new food business, you’ll need to show the local council evidence that you’ve completed the course in order to apply for your food business licence, such as your Food Safety Supervisor Statement of Attainment.
Once you’ve done that, the next step is to create or review the business’s Food Safety Program and to start implementing food safety controls and procedures in the business.
At the Australian Institute of Food Safety, we’ve put together a number of handy guides to help you get started in your new role:
What are the Food Safety Supervisor requirements in New South Wales?
Every food organisation in NSW has a responsibility to make sure its staff are properly trained in food safety.
To meet this requirement and to make sure that all food safety tasks are properly carried out, most food businesses will need to nominate at least one staff member to perform the role of Food Safety Supervisor.
The NSW Food Authority is the state’s regulatory body when it comes to food safety. The Authority established a Food Safety Supervisor Program to help reduce the number of foodborne illnesses occurring in the state’s hospitality and retail foodservice sectors. One way this program aims to achieve this is by improving the skills and knowledge of all food handlers.
In NSW, the food safety legislation is a little different to the other states and territories. For a Food Safety Supervisor to be qualified to work in NSW, the Food Authority requires not only a Statement of Attainment which shows that the required units of competency have been completed but also an authorised NSW Food Safety Supervisor certificate.
This additional certificate must have been issued by an approved training provider and needs to be redone every five years. You can renew your Food Safety Supervisor training through our NSW Recertification course.
Another role of the Food Safety Supervisor Program is to provide food businesses with the necessary resources to be able to engage in high quality and consistent training undertaken through approved Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). This means that only Registered Training Organisations on the approved training provider list are authorised to issue the NSW Food Safety Supervisor Certificates - such as the Australian Institute of Food Safety.