ACT food safety legislation
As a food business owner or manager, you need to be sure you comply with:
- Federal government food safety laws
- ACT government food safety laws
- Local council legislation
If you don't comply, you risk being fined, prosecuted, or even having your business closed down.
Below, you'll find information on:
- all government requirements
- how to comply
- what happens if you don't comply
- who needs to do a Food Safety Supervisor Course
- other compliance information
ACT territory laws and requirements
In the Australian Capital Territory, food safety requirements are set by the Food Act 2001.
This Act requires that food sold in the ACT is safe and suitable for human consumption and meets all standards set out in the Food Standards Code.
Food Safety in ACT is governed by the ACT Health Protection Service.
Regulating & monitoring food safety in ACT
The ACT Health Protection Service is responsible for regulating and monitoring food safety across the entire ACT food industry. This includes:
- Food business registration
- Conducting food business inspections
- Providing food safety resources
- Specifying food safety training requirements
- Publishing the Register of Food Offences
- Managing kilojoule display legislation
Food safety training requirements
One of the key requirements in the Food Act relates to food safety training.
Every food business must have at least one designated Food Safety Supervisor on staff at all times.
Food Safety Supervisor training
Food Safety Supervisors must oversee all staff and work practices to reduce the risks of foodborne illnesses in their workplaces.
Anyone associated with the handling of food in a food business may become the nominated Food Safety Supervisor, from business owners to kitchen hands.
AIFS has been authorised to deliver Food Safety Supervisor training that meets all legal requirements in the ACT.
Food Safety Supervisor training must be completed at least once every five years in the ACT.
If your certificate has expired you will need to complete a Food Safety Supervisor course with AIFS to receive re-certification.
Food businesses have 30 working days from the date of expiry to ensure the appointed Food Safety Supervisor renews their training and obtains new Food Safety Supervisor certification.
Federal & local laws and requirements
Federal government requirements
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for regulating the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, the over-arching standard for food safety in Australia.
The Code is split into four sections:
- Introduction and standards that apply to all food
- Food standards
- Food safety standards
- Primary production standards
Food Standards Code Governance
The Food Standards Code is governed by state and territory departments. In the ACT this is the ACT Health Protection Agency.
Food safety training is covered in Food Safety Practices and General Requirements Standard 3.2.2 which states that:
‘A food business must ensure that all persons undertaking or supervising food handling operations have the necessary skills in food safety and food hygiene matters.’
This means that anyone who handles or prepares food, serves food, transports food or cleans food equipment and utensils must undergo food safety training if they don't already have the required skills.
The easiest way to make sure you’re meeting the federal requirements is by completing a food safety training course such as the Food Handlers course provided by AIFS.
Local council requirements
Local councils are usually responsible for food business registration, monitoring compliance, providing education and advice, and taking enforcement action when needed.
Both state and federal requirements are enforced at a local level, through Health Inspectors employed by local councils.
Health Inspectors play an important role in monitoring food safety. They have authority to:
- Enter a food business property at any time
- Enter without permission
- Request evidence that the correct food safety training has been performed
- Go into any area of a food business
- Take samples
- Issue infringement notices (fines)
- Close the business immediately - if it's deemed to be a serious public health risk
What happens if I don't comply?
The consequences of not complying with the relevant food safety legislation can be serious.
Suspended or cancelled licence
For serious offences, food business licences may be suspended or cancelled. This effectively closes your food business and prevents further trading.
Fines (penalty notices) may be issued for each offence committed. These often run into tens of thousands of dollars.
For serious breaches of legislation, the ACT Health Protection Agency may prosecute employees, proprietors, managers and/or individual company directors.
Register of food offences
In the ACT, the names of food businesses that have breached food safety legislation are available to the public via the Register of Food Offences.
Prohibition or seizure orders
When public health is at risk, your business may be forbidden to handle food and you may have food seized from your premises and destroyed.
Brand & reputation damage
If a serious food safety incident occurs and is widely reported in the media, your business could struggle to recover its reputation.