Frequently asked questions
- Who do I contact for information on imported food?
- For information on importing food from another country, visit the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service website, or phone: 1800 020 504
- My fridge/freezer hasn't been working for 24-48 hours, what should I do?
- The factsheet "Food safety and power failures" explains what to do in this situation. See Food safety in emergency situations.
- Is meat that has been frozen for 8 months okay to eat?
- It should be okay to eat - but the quality might not be very good.
- Are Bug Zappers illegal?
- Bug Zappers are not illegal, but should not be installed in food preparation areas or places where there is exposed food. Spray is okay as long as it is not directed onto food or food surfaces.
- What is the law on Doggy Bags?
There are no laws that prevent restaurants and cafes from giving customers doggy bags however, food businesses can minimise risks by:
- Having a procedure in their Food Safety Program for dealing with doggy bags.
- Having a leaflet or messages on menus explaining the risks of doggy bags to consumers; and
- Seeking advice from insurers.
- Where can I get information on donating food?
Access to a regular food supply is one of our most basic human needs, and many charities have dedicated themselves to meeting this requirement for many years.
Many food businesses have generously supported the efforts of these charities, but others may have worried about whether they can give away food legally and what their responsibilities might be under the Food Act and other relevant laws.
More information can be accessed at Donating Food.
- Who do I contact to make a food or food premises complaint?
Contact the local council responsible for the area in which the food outlet is located.
Ask to speak with an Environmental Health Officer. They have the power to investigate food complaints and take action against those found responsible for any problems found.
Your notification may also enable others in the community to be protected from the same problem.
- How do I contact my Local Government food safety unit?
- Follow this link to find your local council.
- What do I need to do to start up a food business?
To protect Victorians, all food businesses must comply with our food laws, including the Food Act. The brochure below will tell you about:
The brochure can be accessed at Starting a food business.
- how Victorian laws, particularly the food laws, affect what you might be planning to do in your new food business,
- how to meet your obligations, and
- how to get more help and information if you need it.
Note: This brochure is being updated following the Food Act changes which came into effect on 1 July 2010. Please visit this site again when the changes have been completed.
- What is the law on wearing disposable gloves when handling food?
- It is not a requirement to wear gloves whilst handling food. However, gloves may be worn to protect food. It is important that gloves are changed on a regular basis, or as soon as they get dirty. If gloves are not worn utensils should be used to handle and serve food and hands must be kept clean, wounds must be covered and jewellery and false nails should not be worn.
- Do I have to have a food handling certificate or formal training to handle food?
Food handlers do not have to attend formal food safety training courses to meet the skills and knowledge requirements. A food business can adopt many approaches to training, including on-the job training, recognising prior experience, or having staff attend a training course. The Department of Health's Do Food Safety program is a free online training course for those who want to improve their knowledge of safe food handling techniques. Participants who complete the online assessment and score more than 90% can print a certificate to display their knowledge.
Visit the Do Food Safely online training course.
Do Food Safely is not an accredited course. Those who wish to gain accreditation in food safety practices should contact their local Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for accredited courses. Details can be accessed from the National Training Information Service (NTIS) website.
Formal training is required to work as a Food Safety Supervisor. For more information and to download a fact sheet, see Food safety supervisor requirements.
- Can I take specific foods interstate with me for personal use (e.g. frozen prawns or fruit)?
Check with the Department of Primary Industry and your airline before taking these foods interstate as there may be issues, e.g. fruit fly issues.
With respect to food safety - as long as you have the relevant equipment to store the food appropriately, being in a plane, train or car should not increase the risk of contamination on the journey.
More information on transporting foods safely e.g. frozen (ie, hard throughout) and protected (sealed/covered) can be accessed from Food safety in the home and in the community.
- Can dogs (or other animals) be taken to food premises?
Under the national Food Standards Code (the Code) a food business must allow assistance animals, such as guide dogs, in the areas of a food premises used by customers, but not in any food preparation or storage areas.
In 2012 the Code was amended to allow dogs that are not assistance animals in the outdoor dining area of a food premises, provided that the outdoor dining area can be entered, by the public, without passing through an enclosed area.
- Does my food premises need a Food Safety Supervisor?
- View a list of Food Safety Supervisor - frequently asked questions.
- How can I safely clean eggs from my chickens?
Eggs are a nutritious food, but cracked and dirty eggs have the potential to be contaminated with important food poisoning organisms, especially Salmonella.
If you keep chickens at home for egg production, you should use safe handling practices to reduce the food safety risk. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries has information on safe handling and cleaning of eggs produced in the home.
- What causes the metallic after-taste after eating pine nuts?
This taste disturbance is called pine mouth. The NSWFA website provides more detail about this condition
- Why does some meat glow in the dark?
This can be a bit disconcerting when you notice it, but it is the result of harmless bacteria on the surface of the meat which produce a blue-green, bio-luminescent pigment. These bacteria, members of the Pseudomonas family, do not cause food poisoning, and will be destroyed by proper cooking.
- I became ill after eating butterfish – what should I do?
Escolar or oilfish are sometimes sold or mis-labelled as rudderfish or butterfish. Eating these fish can result in an oily diarrhoea presenting 30 minutes to 36 hours after consumption of the fish, and may also cause abdominal pain and cramping. Although unpleasant, this isn’t strictly food poisoning, but occurs as a result of the high levels of natural wax in the fish which acts as a laxative.
Neither true rudderfish, nor butterfish, produce these diarrhoea-like symptoms. If you have encountered these symptoms, contact your local council to investigate in the first instance.
- What is Quorn™?
- Quorn™ is the marketing name for a protein derived from a fungus. A very few people have adverse reactions when eating this food, and if you experience such a reaction you should stop eating this food. The FSANZ information page has more details.