VIC food safety legislation
As a food business owner or manager, you need to be sure you comply with:
- Federal government food safety laws
- VIC 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
Victorian state laws and requirements
The sale and production of food in Victoria is controlled by the Food Act 1984.
This legislation is enforced by the Victorian government Department of Health & Human Services.
The Act requires that all food sold and produced in Victoria is safe for human consumption and meets all standards set out in the Food Standards Code.
VIC classification system
A key component of the Act is a classification system for food businesses.
Businesses are classified between Class 1 and 4 depending on their deemed risk to consumers:
- Class 1 businesses - highest risk
- Class 4 businesses - lowest risk
The classification system guides Health Inspectors when they issue infringement notices for food safety breaches.
Health Inspectors in Victoria have the authority to close businesses where there is an immediate threat to public health.
One of the key requirements in the VIC Food Act is related to food safety training.
In Victoria, every Class 1 food business and most Class 2 food businesses must have at least one designated Food Safety Supervisor on staff at all times.
Food Safety Supervisor training
Food Safety Supervisors are responsible for:
- overseeing day-to-day implementation of food safety in the workplace
- supervising and training food handlers in the business
Food Safety Supervisors must have completed specific nationally recognised Food Safety Supervisor training.
And if your Food Safety Supervisor leaves the business, a replacement must be appointed within 30 days.
AIFS has been approved to deliver Food Safety Supervisor training in Victoria.
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 safety standards
- Primary production standards
- Food Standards Code Governance
The Food Standards Code is governed by state and territory departments. In Victoria, this is the Department of Health & Human Services.
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 are authorised 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?
For serious offences, food premises may be temporarily closed. This effectively closes your food business and prevents further trading.
On-the-spot fines and penalties may be issued for each offence committed. These often run into tens of thousands of dollars.
For serious breaches of legislation, the Dept of Health & Human Services may start prosecution proceedings against your food business.
Brand & reputation damage
When serious food safety incidents occur and are widely reported in the media, your food business could struggle to recover its reputation.