Food Safety

Loddon Shire Council’s Public Health Officer works with food premises operators including community groups to ensure the safety of food being sold within Loddon Shire.

In this section you will find information about Council’s role in food safety, buying a food business, establishing a new food business and operating a temporary food stall.

Definitions

Vulnerable group

Meals on Wheels recipients; the aged or immune-compromised who reside in a facility that provides health care or assisted living services, such as hospitals or nursing homes; or pre-school age children attending a facility such as a child care centre.

Potentially Hazardous Food

Means food that has to be kept at certain temperatures to minimise the growth of any pathogenic micro-organisms that may be present in the food, or to prevent the formation of toxins in the food. For example:

  • raw and cooked meat (including poultry and game) or foods containing raw or cooked meat such as casseroles, curries and lasagne;
  • smallgoods such as Strasbourg, ham and chicken loaf;
  • dairy products, for example, custard and dairy-based desserts such as cheesecakes and custard tarts, but does not include pasteurised milk, ice ream manufactured from pasteurised milk;
  • seafood (excluding live seafood) including seafood salad, patties, fish balls, stews containing seafood and fish stock;
  • processed fruits and vegetables such as fruit salads, fruit juices;
  • cooked rice and pasta;
  • foods containing eggs, beans, or other protein-rich foods such as quiche, fresh pasta and soy bean products; and
  • foods such as sandwiches, rolls and cooked and uncooked pizza that contain the foods listed above.

Charitable or Community Group

A gathering of individuals whose collective association is for a purpose predominantly other than the selling of food and for whom the selling of food is primarily carried out as a fundraising activity that has a collective benefit for a group or a nominated beneficiary.

Sale

The Food Act 1984 defines the term sale and includes the following definitions:-

Sell includes barter, offer or attempt to sell; receive for sale; have in possession for sale; display for sale; cause or permit to be sold or offered for sale; send, forward or deliver for sale; dispose of by way of raffle, lottery or other game of chance; offer as a prize or reward; supply food under contract (whether or not the contract is made with the consumer of the food), together with accommodation, service or entertainment, in consideration of an exclusive charge for the food supplied and the accommodation, service or entertainment; supply food in the course of providing services to patients in hospitals or prisoners in prisons.

Bed and breakfast

Bed and breakfast premises that supply food to guests are required to be registered with the Council's Health Department under the Food Act 1984.

Class 2 bed and breakfast premises must have a food safety program and a suitably qualified Food Safety Supervisor.

Class 3 bed and breakfast premises are required to keep minimum records.

Class 4 bed and breakfast premises are required to submit a notification form.

For information about food classes please see our section on food business classification.

If accommodation is provided for five or more people bed and breakfast premises are also required to be registered under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009.

It is advised that you contact the Council’s Public Health Officer if you intend to establish a Bed and Breakfast business to ensure that you comply with all legislative requirements including those of Council's building and planning departments.

Food business classification

Each business (and community group) operating in Victoria has been assessed using the Department of Health’s food business classification tool. This classification tool is available online.

There are four main classes of food business, based on the types of foods that are provided.

Class 1 food premises

These premises predominantly handle potentially hazardous food that is served to vulnerable groups, such as hospitals, child care centres providing long day care, and aged care facilities such as nursing homes and hostels.

Class 2 food premises

Activities involve the sale of foods not commonly associated with food poisoning. This includes the supply of handling of unpackaged low risk foods, or sale of pre-packaged potentially hazardous foods which simply need refrigeration to keep them safe. Premises that may fall into the Class 3 classification may include milk bars, convenience stores, fruit stalls selling cut fruit and wholesalers distributing pre-packaged foods.

Class 3 food premises

Activities involve the sale of foods not commonly associated with food poisoning. This includes the supply of handling of unpackaged low risk foods, or sale of pre-packaged potentially hazardous foods which simply need refrigeration to keep them safe. Premises that may fall into the Class 3 classification may include milk bars, convenience stores, fruit stalls selling cut fruit and wholesalers distributing pre-packaged foods.

Class 4 food premises

This applies to food handling activities which pose a low risk to public health. They include premises that only undertake the following:

  • the sale of shelf stable pre-packaged confectionary at newsagents, pharmacies and video stores
  • the sale of packaged alcohol by bottle shops
  • sale of uncut fruit and vegetables at farmers markets or by greengrocers (whether retail or wholesale)
  • offering of wine tastings
  • the sale of packaged cakes (excluding cream cakes), bottled jams or honey at shops and stalls
  • Simple sausage sizzles at stalls, where the sausages are cooked and served immediately. This means sausages, sauce, onions and bread. This DOES NOT include hamburgers and other high risk foods.

Please note that if you change the types of foods that you provide from your business or community group to a higher level risk activity then you must notify Council. Your business may then be reclassified. Associated legislative requirements such as a food safety program and food safety supervisor training may also be needed.

Buying an existing food business

Before you buy an existing food business, Council strongly recommends that you seek and obtain a Food Act transfer inspection report. Council’s Public Health Officer performs this inspection.

The Food Act transfer inspection report will detail all non-compliances with the requirements of the Food Act, Food Standards Code and the Food Safety Standards.

There is a fee associated with such an inspection and you will need the current proprietor to sign a form to release information

How to obtain a Food Act transfer inspection report

  1. Provide Council with a Request an inspection of a registered premises form, which includes a consent to disclose signed by the current operator, and the required fee
  2. Council conducts an inspection of the food business
  3. After the inspection, Council sends you or your solicitor a typed copy of the report Food Act transfer inspection.

Transfer of Food Act registration

If the owner of a food business changes, the new owner must apply to transfer the registration. There is a fee to transfer registration.

On your application to transfer the registration you will need to provide details of your Food Safety Program, and Food Safety Supervisor.

Following an inspection of the premise’s Council will transfer the food business registration to the new owner.

The steps to transfer registration

Download and complete the application to transfer a food premises registration.

You must include:

  1. contact details of the new owner
  2. details of new Food Safety Program
  3. details of new Food Safety Supervisor and proof of competency

Council will inspect your food business, following the inspection Council can:

  1. grant transfer of the registration;
  2. grant transfer of the registration with conditions, or
  3. refuse to transfer the registration.

You must operate your business in accordance with your Food Safety Program including keeping required logs and records.

Council is required to inspect the premises prior to registration. The Food Act 1984 provides that Council must not register a business that does not comply with the Act, Standards and Codes.


Council and food safety

Businesses and community groups that sell, transport, store or make food must be registered by law.

Food safety inspections

Council’s Environmental Health Officer inspects registered food premises to make sure food safety standards are being maintained.

Some examples of different registered food premises are:

  • food manufacturers
  • milk bars
  • supermarkets
  • takeaways
  • nursing homes and hospitals
  • food stalls at festivals
  • food vehicles
  • school canteens, and
  • pubs and clubs

Food sampling program

Council undertakes an annual food sampling program during which the Environmental Health Officer submits food purchased from premises within Loddon Shire for analysis to an accredited testing laboratory for analysis.

The food is analysed to check food safety and compliance with regulations and standards.

The number of samples Council is required to take is determined by the Department of Health.

Food safety complaints

Council investigates food safety complaints about food hygiene, foreign object contamination, suspected food poisoning and food handling.

Food recalls

A food recall is where the Victorian Department of Health, generally in conjunction with the manufacturer, decides that food is unsafe for sale and it needs to be recalled. The reasons for a recall can include:

  • microbiological or chemical contamination
  • presence of foreign matter
  • labelling errors and packaging defects
  • undeclared allergens.

Council receives information from the Department of Health about products that need to be recalled.

Council may contact businesses that are known to use or sell the recalled food products and ensure that they are not used and are removed from sale.

Food businesses involved in a food recall must carefully follow instructions from Council and the Department of Health for the removal of food from their shelves.

Further information can be obtained from the Department of Health and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.

Food businesses not governed by Council

Some food businesses are not governed by Council, but by other authorities. If a business predominantly does one of the activities listed below, it should contact the relevant authority.

Activity

  • meat or game handling or processing, poultry handling or processing, for example, a butcher
  • fish and seafood handling or processing, for example, a fishmonger or seafood shop

Registration Authority - Primesafe

Activity

  • cheese manufacturing or processing dairy products i.e. milk

Registration Authority - Dairy Food Safety Victoria

 

Establishing, renewing, closing a food premises

Starting a new business is an exciting time; to ensure that this time doesn’t turn into a nightmare it’s important to understand the legal requirements imposed by the Food Act and Food Safety Standards for your new operation.

To assist you during the planning and construction stage of your new business please read the Loddon Shire Food Premises Construction Guideline(PDF, 4MB).

Renewing your Food Act registration

Registered premises are sent an application to renew their registration and an invoice each August.

You are required to review the information contained on the application form, complete any blank sections and sign it. Once complete, the paperwork and payment for your registration renewal can be returned to Council.

If you fail to pay your registration by 30 September you will be charged a late fee.

Failure to renew registration may risk a lapse in registration. You may need to make a new application to re-register.

It is an offence to trade without current registration.

Closing your food premises

To assist Council in keeping the register of food premises up to date, premises that cease trading are required to notify Council in writing.

The notification should detail the trading name, premises address, the proprietor name and contact information, and the closure date.

The notification can be sent by mail attention to Public Health Department or by email health@loddon.vic.gov.au.

Food safety program

A food safety program is a written document outlining your food business operation and is required for all Class 1 and Class 2 premises.

It includes the standard operating procedures, cleaning program, pest control program, and hygiene standards which are followed by your business to minimise potential food safety problems.

Approved food safety program templates are available for you to use to develop your own program. Use of an approved food safety program template will ensure all aspects in relation to safe food handling and preparation are addressed in your business.

A number of associations have developed or are developing food safety programs that are approved as templates.

Contact the Department of Health's Food Safety Unit on 1300 364 352 or visit their website for a list of the approved food safety program templates available.

The Food Safety Unit at Food Safety Victoria has also developed an approved food safety program template. A copy can be obtained from Council.

 

Food safety supervisor

The basic requirement for Class 1 and most Class 2 businesses to register is for it to have:

  • a food safety program
  • a food safety supervisor

In many instances the food safety supervisor may be the proprietor or another suitably qualified staff member.

Where the food premise uses a Quality Assurance food safety program - a food safety supervisor may not be required.

Food safety supervisor’s role

The food safety supervisor of your business needs to:

  • know how to recognise, prevent and reduce hazards associated with handling food at your business,
  • have the ability and authority to supervise other people handling food at your business and make sure that food handling is done safely, and
  • have a Statement of Attainment that shows they have the required food safety competencies from a registered training organisation.

Statement of attainment for a food safety supervisor

Registered training organisations can provide training, assess skills and issue statements of attainment.

They also assess existing skills and knowledge and provide a certificate of Recognition of Prior Learning.

A food safety supervisor can get a statement of attainment by:

  • doing a training course, or by
  • having previously completed training and/or work experience recognised by a registered training organisation

The food safety skills you need to learn in a training course or have recognised by a registered training organisation depend on your food business.

Competencies you need to be a food safety supervisor

'Competent' is the term used by the training system to describe a person who can demonstrate a set of ‘skills and knowledge’.

These skills and knowledge are organised in ‘units’ of competency so that skills and knowledge can be easily identified and recognised.

To be recognised as competent the person must demonstrate the relevant unit/s and receive a statement of attainment issued by a registered training organisation.

There are minimum units of competency needed to be a food safety supervisor and they vary depending on the food sector.

To determine the minimum competency standard for your food sector, you need to visit the Department of Health's website.

 

Food safety training

Registered training organisations in Victoria offer:

  • food safety training at different times of day to suit your business hours, and
  • training in different languages (check with individual organisations for services offered).

Find training courses

Course codes and competency codes are different. You can search for training courses online. If you are doing training to become a food safety supervisor check with the registered training organisation conducting your training to ensure that the course you do will include the minimum competency required for your business.

Search for training courses online

  • Short Courses Website (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development - Further education and development)
  • TAFE courses directory (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development - Victorian skills gateway)

Do Food Safely

The Victorian Department of Health have developed a free online food safety program that can help improve your business and staff’s knowledge of safe food handling techniques.

The program is suitable for people working in the food industry or volunteering for groups that undertake food preparation.

Please note that Do Food Safely is not an accredited course. If you wish to gain accreditation in food safety practices, please contact a local registered training organisation (RTO) to find out more information about accredited courses.

To complete the program please go to the Do Food Safely website.

 

Food stalls and events

Under the Victorian Food Act 1984 a food stall or mobile food van is considered a food business and as such must be registered with the municipality in which the premise (i.e. stall or van) is based. This also applies to food stalls which operate at various community events and festivals. Examples of food stalls include sausage sizzle, wine tasting, cake stalls and the sale of fresh produce.

Under the Food Act 1984 a statewide, single registration enables food stalls, mobile food premises and food vending machines to operate anywhere in Victoria.

These food businesses must be registered (as a food stall, mobile food premises or vending machine) in the municipality in which they are based (or garaged). Class 4 food businesses which are exempt from registration are still required to notify their local Council of their operation.

Once you are registered or have notified the Council of your operation you are required to lodge a statement of trade each time you operate. Your statement of trade must be submitted at least one business day prior to your event. This means for events that are being held on a weekend your statement to trade must be lodged prior to the close of business on the Thursday preceding your event.

The Victorian State Government have introduced an online system known as StrEATrader for the management of food stalls, mobile food premises and food vending machines that should be used to make applications to Council, notify Council and submit statements of trade.

When an online application for registration is completed through StrEATrader, Council will contact you and advise you of the applicable fee as well as arrange for any required inspection.

All food stalls, mobile food premises and food vending machines may be subject to inspection by a Public Health Officer. Food safety programs (where applicable) must also be up to date and available at the stall at all times.

Loddon Mallee temporary food premises guidelines(PDF, 3MB)

Honey production and sales

The Food Act 1984 requires individuals and/or businesses involved in honey production and sales to be registered with Council.

Registration under Food Act 1984

Your premises will need to meet various structural/fit out requirements prior to registration. Please see ‘Establishing a new food premises' to obtain a copy of these requirements. Alternatively Council’s Public Health Officer can undertake an inspection of your premises and give you specific advice.

Contamination of honey

Contamination of honey can occur from two sources - chemical and biological hazards.

Chemical contamination of honey can be caused from poorly used disease and pest control chemicals, poorly applied chemical bee repellents and storage of honey in unclean or unsuitable containers.

Biological or bacterial contamination can occur due to poor personal hygiene and sanitation procedures during handling and processing.

General contamination can occur during the different stages of the honey production process. To prevent this from occurring, the following procedures should be followed.

Steps to minimise contamination

Extraction :

The equipment and containers must be clean and dry prior to use

Filtration/Settling

Fine mesh strainers are to be used when filtering the honey

Storage

  • Only use food grade containers, equipment and utensils (that is non-toxic and capable of being cleaned)
  • Do not use zinc/galvanized drums for long term use
  • Keep storage containers in a clean area
  • Containers to be washed and dried prior to filling
  • Thought must be given to the acidic nature of honey when choosing containers, equipment and utensils for use in honey production
  • Do not store above 45°C

 Building Design

  • The building used for honey production should be of solid construction and maintained in good repair
  • All surfaces, fixtures and fittings should be constructed of a smooth and impervious material which enables adequate cleaning
  • The building should prevent the entrance and harbouring of animals, pests, vermin and birds
  • A pest control program must be maintained on the premises
  • Living areas, toilets and areas where animals reside should be kept separate and not open directly to the honey handling area
  • Adequate lighting should be provided
  • Potable water supply should be available
  • Hand washing facilities must have an adequate supply of hot and cold water through a single outlet
  • For large-scale production, hand washing facilities separate from the wash up sink should be provided
  • Liquid soap and paper towel should be provided at the hand washing facilities

Personal Hygiene

  • Do not work if suffering from a communicable disease
  • Provide hot and cold water at all sinks; provide liquid soap and paper towel at each hand wash sink
  • Open wounds should be covered with a brightly covered bandage and a clean disposable glove
  • Hands must be washed regularly e.g.
    • after going to the toilet
    • after eating/smoking
    • after being outside
    • before commencing handling of honey
  • Wear clean protective clothing when handling honey
  • Jewellery should not be worn
  • Smoking is not permitted in the same area as honey production

Registration requirements with Department Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR)

Additional to the registration requirements under the food Act any person keeping one or more hives of bees is required by the Livestock Disease Control Act (1994) to register as a beekeeper with Department Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

Please contact the Department Jobs, Precincts and Regions for further advice.