Key messages

  • All packaged foods sold in Australia must comply with the labelling requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, which applies in Victoria through the Food Act 1984.
  • Food labels must carry essential information, so that consumers are informed of the nature and properties of foods before they buy.
  • Food businesses must ensure that they do not mislead or deceive consumers with any claims made on food labels.
  • Food importers must also comply with Australian labelling laws.

All packaged foods sold in Australia must comply with the labelling requirements stated within the Food Standards Code. These requirements have been adopted into food law by all states and territories in Australia, ensuring that food labelling regulations are consistent across Australia. The Code can be accessed via the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.

Food labels are required by law to carry essential information so that consumers are informed of the nature and properties of foods prior to purchase –- this includes statements about the presence of allergenic ingredients that could lead to life-threatening allergic reactions in susceptible persons if the labelling information is not accurate. Some information may also voluntarily be offered on food labels by food businesses, giving consumers greater information to make informed purchasing choices.

Food businesses must also ensure that they are not potentially misleading or deceiving consumers with any claims that are made on food labels (whether intentional or not).

As food labelling requirements may differ around the world, businesses that are importing food for sale in Australia need to ensure that these foods comply with Australian labelling regulations before selling the food.

It is an offence under the Victorian Food Act 1984 to sell food that is not compliant with the Code. It is the responsibility of the supplier of the food (this includes manufacturers, distributors, importers and retailers) to ensure that food labels are compliant with all relevant regulations before selling the food. If food businesses are unsure whether their food complies with the relevant regulations, they should engage the services of a lawyer or food regulatory consultant.