Department of Health

Key messages

  • The home delivery guide is for food businesses that offer home delivery of perishable food items in unrefrigerated vehicles.
  • Examples of perishable foods include fish, fruit, milk and all seafood.
  • The guidelines provide recommendations to follow so that perishable food stays safe during storage and delivery.
  • If food needs to be left outside (such as when no one is home), the customer must know that the home delivery business cannot guarantee the safety of the food.

These guidelines give direction to food businesses that provide a home delivery service for perishable foods, other than ready-to-eat meals, using unrefrigerated transport vehicles. It does not include takeaway food businesses.

Many people take advantage of home delivery offered by supermarkets and other retail food businesses. Home delivery is a major help to people who are older or disabled, and to anyone else who finds it difficult or inconvenient to take food items home with them at the time of purchase.

Perishable food must be delivered safely.

Home delivery guidelines

For these guidelines, home delivery means the delivery of unrefrigerated perishable food purchased from a food business. It is then delivered by the business or a courier to the customer’s home.

Perishable foods are those foods that could spoil or become a health hazard within a short time if they are not properly stored, refrigerated and handled. Examples of perishable foods include fish, fruit, milk and all seafood.

Total delivery time

Total delivery time is from the time of purchase at the store to the time customers receive the delivery at their home. Unless food is kept at refrigerated temperatures at the food business before delivery, or if ice bricks are used, the total delivery time for perishable food should not exceed 4 hours. Transportation time should be less than 30 minutes.

Controlling the temperature of perishable food

To reduce food safety risk, perishable foods should be kept cool during transport. If your business is involved in home delivery, you should develop documented procedures.

Keep stocked food delivery storage trolleys in the coolest part of the business. Stocked trolleys should not be stored alongside windows that are exposed to the sun or near heat-generating sources, such as ovens or heaters. Even refrigerators and freezers can generate heat.

If it is not possible to keep a stocked delivery storage trolley cool, food must be refrigerated before delivery. Ice blocks can also be used to keep food under 5 °C.

Note that a system of taking and recording temperature during transport should be one of the businesses documented procedures.

Peak road traffic should be avoided

Peak road traffic conditions may extend the transportation time beyond 30 minutes and could allow the food to heat up. Aim to deliver food during nonpeak periods, if possible.

Skills and knowledge of all staff

Staff involved with the home delivery service, including drivers, should understand food safety requirements, particularly about the temperature danger zone.

Don’t leave food unattended at a customer’s home

If customers are not at home at the time of delivery, do not leave food unattended unless arrangements have been made with the customer. The customer should be advised that the safety of food cannot be guaranteed if it has been left unattended.

Plan for unexpected delays

Ensure that there is a documented procedure to deal with situations where a delivery is unexpectedly delayed through vehicle breakdown, traffic congestion or traffic accidents. In all instances, the total delivery time for unrefrigerated perishable food should not exceed 4 hours.

Actions for home delivery drivers

Home delivery drivers should:

  • prevent damage to packaging or bruising of food
  • implement documented procedures if unexpected delays due to vehicle breakdown, traffic congestion or traffic accidents occur
  • not leave food unattended at the customer’s home unless arrangements have been made with the customer to do so
  • communicate with customers about delivery times. Advise how long the delivery will take or the expected delivery time, and arrange a specific time for delivery
  • advise that there should be someone at home at the time of delivery. If this is not possible, ensure the customers know that the safety of the food cannot be guaranteed if it is left unattended
  • advise that perishable foods should be placed in the refrigerator as soon as they are delivered.

Food Standards Code

All food businesses in Victoria are required to comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code. The Code specifies requirements for food businesses that, when complied with, ensure food does not become unsafe or unsuitable.

The Code allows perishable foods to be outside temperature control, provided that the food business can demonstrate, to relevant enforcement authorities, that the safety of the food has not been compromised.

Reviewed 22 November 2021


Contact details

Food Safety Unit

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