Department of Health

Key messages

  • Everyone who works with food has a responsibility to ensure that the food they prepare or sell is safe to eat
  • Volunteers and staff can be trained in food safety informally (doing a course inhouse or online) or formally (by taking an accredited course).
  • Do Food Safely is a free, online food handling learning program provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Food handling skills and knowledge will depend on the type of work volunteers are doing.

Food safety responsibilities

It is good practice for any community or not-for-profit group selling food as a fundraiser - for example at a cake stall or a sausage sizzle - to ensure that volunteers and staff understand their responsibilities as food handlers and know the essentials of good food hygiene and food safety.

Ensure that volunteers and staff:

  • have food safety information about their food handling tasks
  • can identify and correct (or report) situations or procedures that could impact on the safety of the food you are selling
  • know their responsibilities in regard to health and hygiene requirements for preparing and handling food for sale.

Food handling requirements

Food handlers refers to anyone who is involved in any activity that involves food or surfaces likely to come in contact with food, including those in:

  • preparing – such as chopping, cooking, thawing
  • delivering and transporting
  • packing
  • serving
  • cleaning tableware or equipment that comes in contact with food.

Food handlers need to have the skills and knowledge required to keep food safe for the jobs they carry out for your fundraiser. For example, a volunteer required to transport sausages to your barbeque will need particular skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene, such as the correct temperature to keep the meat at during transportation, how to test that the correct temperature is maintained, not to transport the meat in a dirty vehicle or with the family dog.

If food handlers have a range of different duties, such as making and then transporting cakes for a cake stall, then they must also have the skills and knowledge needed to undertake this work safely.

Skills, knowledge and food safety regulation

All food businesses, including community and not-for-profit fundraising activities that involve the sale of food, are required to abide by the regulations set out in the Victorian Food Act 1984 and by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). For more information see the Guide for community and not-for-profit groups: The Victorian Food Act 1984 and food safety regulation in the download section below.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Standard 3.2.2 (Food Safety Practices and General Requirements) in the Code requires that people who handle food, and the people who supervise them, have the skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene for the work they do.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has also developed Food safety: Guidance on skills and knowledge for food businesses – advice for food businesses on the skills and knowledge requirement of Food Safety Standard 3.2.2., which can be found on their website: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au.

General practices

Most food handlers will need to have knowledge of:

  • appropriate personal hygiene practices when preparing food such as how to wash their hands properly and how and when to wear gloves 
  • safe food handling practices, such as how to prepare and store food correctly
  • appropriate hygiene practices, that ensure food preparation areas and the equipment used are clean and well maintained.

Specific practices

Additionally, specific practices the skills and knowledge needed for more specific food handling operations are also likely to be required. Specific practices can include knowledge and skills such as temperature control and identification of allergens in food for sale.

Food handling training

Food handlers do not have to attend accredited food safety training courses to meet the skills and knowledge requirements for handling food safely. Volunteers and staff should, however, be encouraged to understand their food safety responsibilities under the Act and the Code.  

Do Food Safely

Do Food Safely is a free, online food handlers' learning program provided by the Department of Health and Human Services' Food Safety Unit. The program is designed for food handlers and can be used as a learning tool for volunteers and staff. The program takes about an hour to complete and a certificate of completion is issued to those who achieve a score of at least 90 per cent on the quiz at the end of the program. 

If you or your volunteers or staff members wish to gain accreditation in food safety practices, contact a local registered training organisation (RTO) to find out more about accredited courses. 

Reviewed 17 November 2021

Health.vic

Contact details

Food Safety Unit

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