Following consultation with stakeholders and a comprehensive review of the existing food premises classification system which took effect in 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (the department) is proposing to make or vary a declaration of classes of food premises. 

Every food premises in Victoria is assessed and placed into one of four classes, based on the type of food handled at the premises. The class of a premises also determines other regulatory requirements that apply to the premises – such as the requirement to be registered, to have a ‘food safety program’, and/or a ‘food safety supervisor’. 

The department’s objective is to ensure that the classification of a food premises is proportionate to the food safety risks undertaken at the food premises.

Intention of the Secretary or delegate to make or vary a declaration of classes of food premises

The Department of Health and Human Services, under section 19CA of the Food Act 1984, hereby gives notice of the intention of the Secretary or delegate to make or vary a declaration of classes of food premises.

The current declaration, under section 19C of the Food Act 1984, was published in the Victoria Government Gazette on 22 June 2010 and took effect on 1 July 2010.

Consultation on the proposed declaration is open for sixty days, from 27 December 2019. Submissions regarding the proposed declaration can be made to foodsafety@dhhs.vic.gov.au

It is proposed that the following changes to the current declaration will be made (indicated in red):

1. Class 1 – no changes are proposed to schedule 1

Schedule 1

Class 1 Food Premises

No change

2. Class 2 – proposed changes to schedule 2

Schedule 2

Class 2 Food Premises

A food premises at which any

  1. unpackaged potentially hazardous food is handled, or
  2. low risk packaged food is manufactured, on which any allergen-free claim is made on the labelling of the packaged food

other than – 

  1. a class 1 food premises; or
  2. a food premises at which the only handling of unpackaged potentially hazardous food, is of a kind which renders the premises a class 3 food premises or a class 4 food premises.

Explanatory Information

Change of classification of premises of manufacturers of low risk food premises which make allergen free claim from class 3 to class 2.

There is a substantial body of data supporting the public health risks associated with food allergens.

Allergen free claims include statements such as ‘gluten free’, ‘nut free’, or ‘dairy free’.

Currently, a manufacturer who makes low risk packaged foods, such as muesli bars, dry pasta or dry biscuits, bread, and makes an allergen-free claim on the packaging of those foods, is classified as a class 3 premises. Class 3 food businesses are not required to have a food safety program and are not required to have a food safety supervisor.
The proposed change to class 2 will assist in  risk mitigation. Class 2 food premises are required to have a food safety program that identifies and manages food safety hazards (including allergens) and a food safety supervisor. 

Food safety programs for the manufacturing industry must be audited annually by a department-approved food safety auditor.

The proposed change to class 2 will also result in these food businesses having to appoint a food safety supervisor. 

The proposed change to class 2 (and requirement to have a food safety program and food safety supervisor) is not expected to have a major impact on most food manufacturers, as they already have food safety programs in place if supplying major supermarkets. 

3. Class 3 – proposed changes to schedule 3

Schedule 3

Class 3 food premises

A food premises at which one or more of the following food handling activities occurs:

  1. the handling of unpackaged low risk food (other than low risk food which is manufactured, on which any allergen-free claim is made on the labelling of the packaged food); or
  2. the warehousing or distribution of pre-packaged foods; or
  3. the sale of pre-packaged potentially hazardous food; or
  4. the sale of shell eggs; or
  5. offering members of the public a free sample of a potentially hazardous food for immediate consumption if –
    1. that food is, or will be, available for sale at the premises in a packaged form; and
    2. the sample is offered for no more than four hours; (ii. is proposed to be removed)
  6. the sale of ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food by a community group if –
    1. all of the food is cooked on site with the intention of being served immediately;
    2. the majority of persons involved in the handling of the food are volunteers; and
    3. this activity takes place at the premises for a maximum of two consecutive days at any one time
  7. preparation and cooking of potentially hazardous foods which are served for immediate consumption at an accommodation getaway premises 
  8. making of cakes which are:
    1. baked, and
    2. after baking are a low risk food, and
    3. have no potentially hazardous foods added to the cake after baking (eg cream).
  9. food made using a hot-fill process (example jam, chutney, relish or any other similar food), that:
    1. is made at retail food premises (example home based food premises, temporary food premises, such as a hired kitchen); and
    2. has been heat treated to a temperature of not less than 85°C and then filled and sealed hot into its packaging; and
    3. has a pH of less than 4.6; or
    4. has water activity of less than 0.85

but does not include a food premises at which the only handling of food is of a kind which renders the premises a class 4 food premises.

Explanatory Information

Change of classification of various food and/or premises types from class 2 to class 3.

Accommodation Getaway Premises:

Accommodation getaway premises are small businesses that include bed and breakfast facilities, farm stays and nature retreats. They typically supply ready-to-eat, low risk meals (such as cereal/toast) or potentially hazardous meals (such as bacon and eggs) which are cooked and served for immediate consumption.

Currently, due to the preparation and cooking of unpackaged potentially hazardous foods, these small businesses are classified as a class 2 food premises (the same as restaurants and large food manufacturers).

As a Class 2 food premises, accommodation getaway premises are required to have a food safety program and food safety supervisor.

The proposed change in classification of this type of food business to class 3 will result in accommodation getaway premises no longer being required to have a food safety program. As a class 3 premises registration and inspection by councils will occur annually, and they must also comply with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code.

Ordinarily, class 3 premises are not required to have a food safety supervisor.  However, accommodation getaway businesses handle potentially hazardous food and a degree of food safety knowledge is still required. Accommodation getaway premises will therefore continue to be required to have a food safety supervisor.

A reduction in the annual registration fee is likely to apply as Councils generally charge a lower fee for registration of class 3 food businesses. 

The proposed change in classification to class 3 is unlikely to pose a public health risk, as there have been no foodborne illness outbreaks associated with accommodation getaway premises.

There were 551 accommodation getaway premises registered by Victorian councils in 2018. This premises type had the highest rate of compliance (94.2%) with the Food Act 1984 for any type of class 2 premises. The State average for compliance for 2018 across all food premises types was 82.7%.

Making of cakes (those which are 'low risk foods' after baking)

Food businesses that make cakes are  currently classified as class 2 food premises due to the handling of potentially hazardous foods during the  making of the cake before it is baked (as cakes would generally contain eggs).

However, the production process includes a pathogen reduction step (baking) and the net result is that the food surface is dry and the food can be stored at room temperature as it is unlikely to support the growth of food poisoning bacteria.  

It is proposed to change the classification of those food businesses that make from class 2 to class 3. This does not include cakes where potentially hazardous fillings, such as cream, are added after baking.

Currently, as Class 2 food premises, premises of this type are required to have a food safety program and food safety supervisor.

The proposed to change in classification of this type of food business to class 3 will result in this premises type no longer being required to have a food safety program. As a class 3 premises registration and inspection by councils will occur annually, and they must also comply with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code.

This premises type will not be required to have a food safety supervisor.

A reduction in the annual registration fee is likely to apply as Councils generally charge a lower fee for registration of class 3  food businesses.

The proposed change in classification to class 3 is unlikely to pose a public health risk. There have been no foodborne illness outbreaks associated with cakes where all the ingredients are baked and are low-risk.

Foods made using a hot-fill process (made in retail premises)

There are many retail food premises such as home-based food premises that produce foods such as chutneys, salsa, relish, and tomato sauce, which are then sold at weekend markets, or via online retail.

Currently, these small businesses are classified as class 2 food premises (the same as restaurants and large food manufacturers). 

As a class 2 food premises, these food businesses are required to have and maintain a food safety program and have a food safety supervisor.

It is proposed to change the classification of this food premises type from class 2 to class 3.

The proposed change in classification of this type of food business to class 3 will result in this premises type no longer being required to have a food safety program. As a class 3 premises registration and inspection by councils will occur annually, and they must also comply with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code.

Ordinarily, class 3 premises are not required to have a food safety supervisor, however, this premises type handles potentially hazardous food and a degree of food safety knowledge is still required. Consequently, this type of food business will continue to be required to have a food safety supervisor.

A reduction in the annual registration fee is likely to apply as Councils generally charge a lower fee for registration of class 3 food businesses. The proposed change in classification to class 3 is unlikely to pose a public health risk. There have been no foodborne illness outbreaks recorded in Victoria associated with these foods made by home-based businesses.  

Food such as chutneys, salsa, relishes and tomato sauces are thoroughly cooked (usually boiled) and the pH and water activity has been altered by the inclusion of preservatives (salt, sugar, vinegar). The hot food is then bottled and sealed.  The net result is that the food can be stored at room temperature until opened as it is unlikely to support the growth of food poisoning bacteria.

4. Class 4 – proposed changes to schedule 4

Schedule 4

Class 4 food premises

A food premises at which the only food handling activities are one or more of the following:

  1. the sale of members of the public of:
    1. pre-packaged low risk food; or
    2. sausages that are cooked and served immediately, with or without onions cooked at the same time, and bread and sauce – when cooked and sold at a temporary food premises or by a non-profit body; or
    3. packaged or covered cakes (other than cakes with a cream filling) at a temporary premises by a community group; or
    4. biscuits, tea or coffee (with or without milk or soymilk) at a temporary premises by a community group; or
  2. a wine tasting for members of the public, which may include the serving of cheese or low risk food that has been prepared and is ready to eat; or
  3. the sale to members of the public or the wholesale of whole (uncut) fruit or vegetables; or
  4. the handling of low risk food or cut fruit or vegetables and the serving of that food to children at a sessional children’s service.
  5. offering members of the public a free sample of a low risk food for immediate consumption if that food is, or will be, available for sale at the premises in a packaged form
  6. serving of coffee, tea, alcohol (including the addition of a sliced fruit), water, soft drink (except fermented soft drinks containing a live culture) intended for immediate consumption, but does not include unpasteurised processed fruit or vegetables (eg fresh juice) or any drink which has any other potentially hazardous food added, such as unpasteurised egg.

Explanatory Information

Change of classification of various food and/or premises types from class 3 to class 4). 

Serving of coffee, tea, alcohol, soft drink (excluding fermented soft drinks containing a live culture) for immediate consumption.

It is proposed to reduce the classification of these food businesses from class 3 to class 4.  As with other class 4 food premises, these businesses will no longer need to be registered with their local council (and will no longer have to pay a registration fee) or be subjected to an annual mandatory inspection. They will, however, still be required to undertake a one-off notification to their local council and must also comply with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code.

Premises that also sell potentially hazardous foods will not be affected by this change.  

This change will only apply to those food businesses at which the only activity is serving of coffee, tea, alcohol, water, soft drink (except fermented soft drinks containing a live culture) intended for immediate consumption and any other food which is class 4.

The proposed change   in classification to class 4 is unlikely to pose a public health risk.

There have been no foodborne illness outbreaks associated with these foods.

Providing tastings of opened low risk food.

There are many food businesses that sell pre-packaged low risk food and some of these premises will offer tastings of the food they sell. Currently, serving an opened, low risk food for tasting makes these premises class 3.

It is proposed to reduce the classification of these food businesses from class 3 to class 4.  As with other class 4 food premises, these businesses will no longer need to be registered with their local council (and will no longer have to pay a registration fee) or be subjected to an annual mandatory inspection. They will, however, still be required to undertake a one-off notification to their local council and must also comply with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code.

The proposed change in classification to class 3 is unlikely to pose a public health risk. There have been no foodborne illness outbreaks recorded in Victoria associated with these foods made by home-based businesses.

There have been no foodborne illness outbreaks associated with tastings of food and drink.

5. Audit or assessment requirements

Schedule 5

Audit or assessment requirements for class 1 food premises and class 2 food premises

No change

Schedule 6

The range of frequencies and intervals that may be applied (instead of the default requirements) by a registration authority for audit or assessment of a particular class 1 food premises or class 2 food premises

No change

6. Definitions - proposed changes to schedule 7

Schedule 7

Definitions

accommodation getaway premises means a premises which provides hosted short term accommodation where food is prepared and served on request. Examples include bed and breakfast, farm-stays, guesthouses, nature retreats, and motels.

aged care service has the same meaning as in section 1–3 and schedule 1 of the Aged Care Act 1977 (Commonwealth);

allergen-free claim

a statement indicating that a food item is free from containing an allergen which is declared under clause 1.2.3-4 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code

children’s service means a children’s service within the meaning of section 3 of the Children’s Services Act 1996 attended by children aged five years of age or less, other than –

  1. a school, service or activity to which that Act does not apply;
  2. a recreational activity, such as a camp or party;
  3. a service at which, ordinarily, the children attending are entirely or mostly different on each occasion care is provided, such as a resort at which children of guests of the resort are temporarily cared for in the absence of their parents or usual carers; or
  4. an outside school hours service that provides care or education to students outside school hours;

class 1 food premises means food premises declared to be class 1 food premises in this instrument;

class 2 food premises means food premises declared to be class 2 food premises in this instrument;

class 3 food premises means food premises declared to be class 3 food premises in this instrument;

class 4 food premises means food premises declared to be class 4 food premises in this instrument;

community group means:

  1. a not-for-profit body; or
  2. a person or unincorporated group of persons undertaking a food handling activity solely for the purposes of raising funds for charitable purposes or for a not-for-profit body;

hot-fill process means food that

has been heat treated to a temperature of not less than 85°C and then filled and sealed hot into its packaging (example jars or bottles of jam, chutney, relish or any other similar food). 

home-based food premises

a food premises that is conducted from a premises which is used principally as a private dwelling.

low risk food

means food that is unlikely to contain pathogenic micro-organisms and will not normally support their growth due to food characteristics;

examples

grains, cereals, carbonated beverages, jams, dried fruits, packaged pasteurised milk, ice-cream manufactured from pasteurised or heat-treated milk, pasteurised or heat treated soy milk, and cut fruit or vegetables (which are not subject to any further processing);

not-for-profit body means an incorporated or unincorporated body or association that is not carried on for the purposes of profit or gain to its individual members and is, by the terms of the constitution of the body or association, prohibited from making any distribution, whether in money, property or otherwise, to its members;

pathogenic micro-organisms means any bacteria, viruses, yeasts and moulds that are capable of causing disease;

potentially hazardous food

  1. 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; and
  2. includes all food other than low risk food.

examples

  • 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 such as custard, or dairy-based desserts such as cheesecakes and custard tarts, but not packaged pasteurised milk or ice-cream manufactured from pasteurised or heat-treated 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;

pre-packaged food is food that has been sealed within a package prior to entering the business, and remains in that package until after it is sold;

ready-to-eat food is food that is ready for consumption, and includes food that may be re-heated, portioned or garnished or food that undergoes similar finishing prior to being served;

registration period means a 12-month period commencing on –

  1. the date that the registration of the food premises or transfer of the registration of the food premises under the Act takes, or has taken, effect; or
  2. if the registration of the premises has been renewed under the Act, the date on which the most recent renewal takes, or has taken, effect –

regardless of whether the registration, transfer of registration or renewal of registration decision was made before or after 1 July 2010;

sessional children’s service means a children’s service which only provides a service –

  1. for children aged between three and five years of age; and
  2. at which each child may attend for no more than five hours in a day;

supported residential service has the same meaning as in section 3 of the Health Services Act 1988;

unpackaged food is food that is not pre-packaged food;

warehouse is a building where goods requiring dry or cold storage are kept, pending distribution to another food premises.