Food business information
Our food safety laws affect every Victorian's health and safety. Food-borne illness can cause severe illness and even death in vulnerable people.
Under the Food Act 1984, all food business owners (and community groups who sell food) are legally responsible to ensure that food sold or prepared for sale is safe to eat.
The Act also requires food premises to comply with the Food Standards Code. The Code is a collection of individual food standards developed jointly by Australia and New Zealand. It is a criminal offence in Australia to supply food that does not comply with relevant food standards.
It is also an offence to sell food which is damaged, has deteriorated or perished, is adulterated, or unfit for human consumption.
This means that it is not only the business owner/proprietor who is responsible for food safety in the business. All staff in the business who handle and prepare food for sale to consumers are responsible for food safety.
Without compromising food safety, the Act is designed to impose only reasonable compliance costs on businesses and community groups that sell food. It does this through matching the level of regulation to the level of risk of different food business activities. As you'd expect, premises carrying out only low-risk food handling activities must follow simpler safety rules than those handling foods that are more likely to make people sick.
As major employers and exporters, Victoria's 45,000 food businesses are a crucial part of the state economy. Business reputations and livelihoods also depend upon food safety: a single case of food-borne illness can threaten the viability of a business and the financial security of its employees.
This section will help you find out more about safe food handling practices and relevant training courses.
If you help out at a community group that sells food to raise funds, see Community Events.
From 1 July 2010, changes to the Food Act 1984 came into effect which are intended to improve Victoria's system for regulating the safety of food sold for human consumption.
If you run a food business, you need to understand the impact of these changes on your organisation.
Your local council environmental health officer will assist you to understand and comply with your obligations.
Please also take the time to familiarise yourself with the relevant information and free guidance materials on this website.