Frequently Asked Questions
Does my business need a Food Safety Supervisor?
This will depend on where your business is located and what type of food it serves.
Certain Australian states and territories require all registered food businesses to nominate a qualified Food Safety Supervisor. This person will normally need to have done a Food Safety Supervisor course to show that they can lead and manage a business’s Food Safety Program.
Usually, licensable food businesses must have a Food Safety Supervisor if they serve:
- Ready-to-eat food,
- Potentially hazardous food, or
- Food not sold and served in its original package.
As a general rule, if you’re in a state or territory with this legislation, and your food business needs a licence, it will need a Food Safety Supervisor.
Guidelines for your State or Territory
To make it a little easier, here’s a brief guide outlining which states and territories legally require most food businesses to nominate a Food Safety Supervisor, and which do not.
Appointing a Food Safety Supervisor is mandatory in:
- New South Wales
- Australian Capital Territory
If your food business is registered in one of the above states, you may also be legally required to notify your local government with the details of your nominated Food Safety Supervisor.
A Food Safety Supervisor is highly recommended, but not mandatory, in:
- Western Australia
- South Australia
- Northern Territory
Even though these locations don’t need a Food Safety Supervisor by law, training an employee as a Food Safety Supervisor is one of the best investments you can make for the future of your food business. Having someone who can design and oversee a Food Safety Program that protects your customers, improves efficiency, and reduces waste can be a huge advantage for any food business looking to deliver a premium product or service.
Who to contact for more information
Your local council can provide more guidance on the licensing and Food Safety Supervisor requirements for your state.
Once you’re certain that your state or territory requires you to employ a Food Safety Supervisor, you’ll then need to find out which units of competency you'll need to complete.
What are the penalties if I don't have a Food Safety Supervisor?
The penalties for not having a Food Safety Supervisor are set at a state and territory level. The fine ranges from $330 to $75,000, depending on the situation and where the business is located.
Food safety is highly regulated in Australia and authorities can issue fines for many different reasons. Other penalties could be a suspension of the food business licence, closing down a business and even prosecution of the food business licensee.
To learn more about the penalties that could be applied to your food business, or for an overview of the state and territory penalties, please visit Penalty Charges for Not Having a Food Safety Supervisor.
How do I notify the authorities that I’ve nominated a Food Safety Supervisor?
Once you’ve nominated a Food Safety Supervisor for your business, you would usually advise your local council in writing - either via email or through the post.
If you are applying for a business license, you might have to supply a copy of your Food Safety Supervisor’s Statement of Attainment, and NSW certificate if applicable, as proof.
Who is responsible for food safety in my business?
Food Safety is everyone’s responsibility. The business owner, the Food Safety Supervisor and all the Food Handlers in an organisation play a part. Each has their own roles and responsibilities with regards to food safety.
Food Safety is monitored by all three levels of government. Legislation and regulations exist at a federal, state and local council level. If you have an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) visit your business, even though they probably work for your local council, they need to enforce legislation from all levels of government.
To learn more about the specific food safety roles and responsibilities for workers within your food business, you can check out this article.
Who should I choose to be a Food Safety Supervisor for my business?
Choosing the right person to perform the role of Food Safety Supervisor in your business is crucial. This person will be in charge of making sure that your business remains food safe, so it has to be someone responsible.
If you’re a food business owner, you should nominate someone trustworthy – yourself, your licensee, a manager, an employee, or an external contractor – who can fulfil the legal requirements set out in the Food Act.
This means choosing a person who:
- Can demonstrate ‘reasonable availability’ at all times to ensure accountability and to protect your business
- Understands the role and responsibilities of a Food Safety Supervisor
- Has the authority to supervise staff in food handling
- Has the organisational skills to implement a food safety program
- Can complete Food Safety Supervisor training relevant to your food industry
For more information, check out our handy guide on how to choose the right Food Safety Supervisor for your team.
How can I find out if my food business needs a Food Safety Supervisor?
As a general rule, most food businesses in Victoria, Queensland, NSW and the ACT will require at least one designated Food Safety Supervisor per location.
Before opening, a food business needs to notify their local council’s health unit of their intended food handling activities. The local council will then judge the food safety requirements of the food business to determine what its food safety requirements are.
When making this decision, councils take many different things into account – including the types of high-risk food being produced by the business, its location and the chance of any food poisoning occurring.
But, it’s important to keep in mind that while some businesses can simply call their local council for this information, you might have to first fill in a food business application to find out.
Local councils can also tell the food business which food sector or industry it falls under so that the right Food Safety Supervisor training can be completed.
To find out exactly what your business’s food safety requirements are, you can contact your local council or state food authority.