A state-by-state overview of Australian food safety laws

By Rhys Martin February 21, 2024

If you run a hospitality venue in Australia, you know the importance of monitoring food safety. However, navigating the different state and territory food safety laws can be tricky. Worry not! Our summary of each region’s rules can help inform your food safety plan, protecting your business and patrons. 

Why are the laws different?

Food safety laws differ across Australia due to the different legal systems of each state and territory. These regions develop their own laws to address specific local challenges and priorities. 

While some criteria are the same across the country, such as having a trained food safety supervisor, regional laws address the following:

  • allergen management
  • cultural norms
  • agricultural practices.

Overall, the purpose of the laws is the same: To safeguard public health by guaranteeing the safety and integrity of the food supply chain.

What do food safety laws cover?

Food safety supervision

As of December 2022, every Australian business that serves food must always have at least one designated food safety supervisor on staff, and all food handlers must train to a specific standard.

Food safety management systems

Most states and territories require venues to have a food safety management system based on HACCP principles. A food safety checklist template is a handy tool to make sure you’re compliant.

Temperature control 

Venues are required to adhere to specific temperatures during food storage and preparation.

Food handling practices

Staff need to exercise safe food handling and prevent cross-contamination.

Allergen management 

Venues must have accurate allergen labeling. This helps prevent potential illness from allergic reactions.

Venue sanitation 

Venues must be clean and incorporate hygiene measures, like handwashing facilities and pest control.

Enforcement and compliance

The laws dictate the frequency of inspections, penalties for infringement, and required staff education/training programs. 

An overview of state and territory food safety laws

Australian Capital Territory

In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), food safety is regulated by the Food Act 2001 and its accompanying regulations, overseen by the ACT Health Directorate. 

Within the ACT, regulations govern the sale and handling of high-risk foods such as raw meat and poultry. These foods can carry harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning if improperly handled. These specific regulations aim to prevent foodborne illnesses and keep people safe.

If you operate in the ACT, your certified food safety supervisor should:

  • Oversee how food is prepared. 
  • Implement rigorous cleaning and sanitation procedures. 
  • Stay updated on any changes to the ACT’s food safety laws to maintain compliance. 

Moreover, venues operating in densely populated urban areas, like Canberra, should be mindful of increased demand for services and food waste.

New South Wales

The food safety laws in New South Wales (NSW), governed by the Food Act 2003 and the Food Regulation 2015, are enforced and regulated by the NSW Food Authority. 

NSW has a risk-based approach to food safety regulation, meaning the level of regulation imposed on each venue is determined by the associated risk level of its operations. For example, if a venue serves raw food, like sushi, it would have a higher risk level than a venue with pre-packaged food.

The NSW Food Authority offers guides and resources to help venues remain compliant. Thanks to the guides, venues can tailor these food safety standards to meet their specific needs. 

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory (NT), food safety is overseen by the Food Act 2004 and the Food Regulations 2019, which the Department of Health manages. 

In the NT, food safety programs are developed by accredited industry associations. These programs are influenced by regulations around selling high-risk foods such as raw seafood and unpasteurized dairy products. This approach balances the NT’s food laws with health standards. 

For venues in NT, explore recognized food safety programs that adhere to high-risk food regulations. Invest in staff training and equipment for temperature control to prevent foodborne illnesses. 

It’s important to consider cultural beliefs and traditional food preparation methods in areas with significant Indigenous populations. 


The Food Act 2006 and the Food Regulation 2019 govern food safety in Queensland, with enforcement responsibilities shared between Queensland Health and local councils. 

In Queensland, local government takes an active role in enforcement and compliance. Venues should work closely with local government authorities to learn inspection and compliance standards. From here, managers can develop and apply their food safety management system. Keep accurate records of the following: 

  • food handling practices
  • temperature monitoring
  • cleaning schedules. 

Venues should be mindful of challenges related to tropical climates. Make sure you have suitable areas to store food. 

South Australia

Food safety in South Australia is governed by the Food Act 2001 and the Food Regulations 2017, with enforcement responsibilities held by SA Health. 

In South Australia, specific regulations govern the sale and handling of potentially hazardous foods that require temperature control, such as seafood. This, alongside the need for a food safety supervisor, requires venues to invest in training and temperature monitoring systems to remain compliant. 

Venues in South Australia must have designated food safety supervisor. It’s their responsibility to ensure the venue is compliant. Ways to remain compliant include having accurate food safety plans and records of staff training and certification 

Parts of South Australia have significant Indigenous populations with traditional food practices. If you operate in these regions, be mindful of cultural values and traditional food preparation methods. This is to safeguard the safety of Indigenous foods while respecting First Nations heritage.


Food safety in Tasmania is regulated by the Food Act 2003 and the Food Standards Code, with enforcement responsibilities held by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Tasmania requires venues to have a system based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. Venues must create and follow HACCP-based food safety plans; a food safety checklist template is a great resource for this. 

Plus, due to Tasmania’s geographic isolation, the availability and transportation of fresh produce may be impacted. This has led to unique regulations focused on the safety and quality of imported goods and locally sourced products. 

Western Australia

Food safety in Western Australia (WA) is regulated by the Food Act 2008 and the Food Regulations 2009, with enforcement responsibilities held by the Department of Health.

Venues in WA must have recognized food safety programs in place. These programs must be developed by certified industry associations and can be tailored by the business operators. 

Also, due to WA’s remoteness, food production relies heavily on local agriculture. With this comes unique risks related to: 

  • pesticide use 
  • chemical residues 
  • soil contamination. 


Food safety in Victoria is regulated by the Food Act 1984 and the Food Standards Code, with enforcement responsibilities held by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Victoria has a classification system for food venues, ranging from Class 1 (highest risk) to Class 4 (lowest risk). Each class has specific requirements for food safety practices, record-keeping, and inspections. Businesses are classified based on the following: 

  • the type of food they handle 
  • the number of people they serve
  • their venue’s location 
  • their history of compliance.

Venues in Victoria are also required to place a strong emphasis on allergen management. Methods for allergen management include: 

  • staff training 
  • procedures to prevent cross-contamination
  • clear allergen labeling 

Allergen management is a complex matter. If you need help with this, our article Protecting patrons: Allergen management in hospitality is a great resource.

Simplify your food safety with Operandio

If you’re seeking ways to improve the efficiency of your operations, Operandio can help streamline your staff training, compliance checklists, and temperature monitoring. Book your free demo today.