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Country of Origin Food Labelling

Requirements under the Australian Consumer Law

The Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016 commenced on 1 July 2016 under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). It applies to food offered for retail sale in Australia, e.g. food sold in stores or markets, online or from a vending machine. 

The new Country of Origin food labelling requirements become mandatory from 1 July 2018. As a small business who produces food in Australia this means you must ensure your labelling is compliant with the new requirements.

For a copy of the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016, please click here.

Food standards

A food business has a legal responsibility to ensure that food sold to customers is handled and processed in a way that will ensure its safety. Food must be adequately and accurately labelled to ensure consumers can make an informed choice.

In South Australia food businesses are required to comply with the Food Act 2001 (opens in a new window) and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (opens in a new window).

Starting a food business

What is a food business?

Under the Food Act 2001 (opens in a new window) a food business means a business, enterprise or activity (other than a primary food production business) that involves:

  • the handling of food intended for sale
  • the sale of food

regardless of whether the business, enterprise or activity concerned is of a commercial, charitable or community nature or whether it involves the handling or sale of food on one occasion only.

Food business even includes businesses like the following:

  • chemists
  • cinemas
  • corner stores
  • petrol stations
  • swimming pools

All food businesses, from major food manufacturers to a local church group that holds a one-off food fair, have defined responsibilities under the legislation to ensure the safety of food.

Food business notification

Before starting food handling operations all food businesses operating within the district are required to formally notify Council.

How to notify

To notify, all you need to do is lodge a completed notification form with the Council.

Failure to notify

Penalties and/or expiation fees may be applied.

Maximum penalty:

  • $120,000 if the offender is a body corporate
  • $25,000 if an individual person

Expiation fee:

  • $1,500 if the offender is a body corporate
  • $300 if an individual person.

Mobile Food Van Businesses

When starting a mobile food van business, the owner must apply to Council by filling out the “Mobile Food Van Application Form”. This person then becomes the permit holder for the business. The permit holder must take out and supply Council with a copy of their public risk insurance policy, have the permit displayed at all times of service and follow the Mobile Food Van Location Rules.

Primary Food Production Businesses

If your business is classed under the Food Act 2001 as a primary food production business, you are not required to notify Council. However, there may be primary industries legislation that applies to your business. Visit the Biosecurity SA website for more information.

However, there are some exceptions, which change the classification from a primary food producer to a food business. If your business is involved in the following activities then you are a food business and are required to notify Council:

  • sale or service of food direct to the public
  • packing or treating food under contract, or where the food has been purchased
  • other activities prescribed by regulation (none at this time)
  • any process involving the 'substantial transformation' of food.

Food safety inspections

All food business must comply with requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards (the Code). Surveillance of these requirements will be performed by conducting regular food premises inspections or regulatory audits (where required).

All food businesses are expected to comply with the requirements of the:

Inspections typically assess compliance with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (opens in a new window) particularly the Food Safety Requirements (Chapter 3). Inspection frequency is established using compliance history and the SA Health priority classification system. These include:

  • maintaining safe food handling and preparation procedures
  • maintaining hygiene
  • temperature control
  • structural requirements
  • adequate facilities.

Inspections are undertaken as part of a regular inspection program, or sometimes:

  • during investigations of complaints
  • due to food safety incidents
  • response to surveys.

Surveillance of the Food Act 2001 helps achieve the effective management of food safety risks and the prevention of misleading conduct in connection with the sale of food

Further information

Further information can be obtained from the SA Health Website