The Code is a collection of food standards set out in four chapters (see below) developed jointly by the governments of Australia, Australian states and territories, and New Zealand.
These food standards are designed to:
- ensure that food is safe and suitable for human consumption;
- prevent misleading conduct associated with the sale of food;
- provide adequate information to enable consumers to make an informed choice; and
- provide an effective regulatory framework within which the food industry can work efficiently.
The Code applies to any business or activity that involves the handling of food for sale, or the sale of food in Australia. In Victoria, the Code is enforced mainly by local councils, which register food businesses operating within their municipality. The Department of Health and Human Services also has enforcement powers under the Food Act 1984.
It is a criminal offence under the Food Act to handle or sell food that does not comply with any requirement set out in the Code. The Food Act also includes offences involving the handling or sale of unsafe or unsuitable food, and false descriptions of food.
Chapters of the code
Chapter 1 – General Food Standards
These standards apply to all foods and include labelling, what can and can’t be added to or be present in food, microbiological limits, and the regulation of genetically modified and irradiated food.
Chapter 2 - Food Product Standards
This chapter includes definitions, compositional and labelling requirements specific to particular foods or classes of foods.
Chapter 3 – Food Safety Standards
Compliance with Chapter 3 standards is critical for the provision of food that is safe and suitable for human consumption. These standards apply to all food businesses and set out requirements for all aspects of food handling and for food handlers. The standards are a key focus for the enforcement activities of local government environmental health practitioners in Victoria.
Chapter 4 – Primary Production and Processing Standards
This chapter includes primary production and processing standards for seafood, meat, poultry meat, dairy products, specific cheeses, eggs, seed sprouts and wine.
- Chapters 1 and 2 generally apply in Australia and New Zealand;
- Chapters 3 and 4 are Australia only;
- Safe food Australia, 3rd edition, is a guide to assist food businesses in complying with the requirements set out in Chapter 3.
- The Code, the revised Code, and user guides are available on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand web-site at;
- It is the responsibility of a food business to comply with the Code and to keep up to date with amendments.