The Department of Health and Human Service’s (the department) Food Safety Unit (the FSU) is part of the Health Protection Branch in the Regulation, Health Protection and Emergency Management Division.
The FSU has a range of statutory functions that are outlined in the Victorian Food Act 1984 (the Act). These functions include promoting the objectives and the consistent administration of the Act through the provision of information and guidance to local councils, including supporting local council environmental health officers (EHOs), approving and supporting food safety auditors, and providing basic food handling education for food businesses and the general community.
The FSU also supports public health through regulatory policy development and participates in a range of state-based and national food safety working groups and committees, and collaborates with food manufacturers and food businesses, educational institutions and consumers, with the aim of influencing thinking, policy and programs to achieve a healthier Victorian community.
- supports the Minister for Health in her role as Victoria's lead minister on the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) to provide a whole-of-government response to national food regulation issues
- leads inter-jurisdictional policy and project work on behalf of Victoria
- is a member of the Food Regulation Standing Committee, its subcommittee, the Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation, and other national committees under the Intergovernmental Food Regulation Agreement
- undertakes food safety risk assessments, incident investigations and responds where there are regional, statewide or national food safety incidents
- undertakes complaint investigations regarding possible breaches of the Act and the Food Standards Code Australia New Zealand, for example, complaints about food and beverage labelling
- undertakes research and technical analysis to support food safety activities across the department and the state
- coordinates data collection, analysis and the procurement and management of statewide data systems including undertaking food surveillance
- approves food safety auditors, authorises food analysts and approves food safety program (FSP) templates under the Act
- provides advice, guidance and tools for stakeholders
- maintains vigilance and undertakes research on emerging food trends, such as food fermentation
- works to ensure food legislation is adhered to and applied in a consistent manner.
The FSU works collaboratively with a range of external stakeholders, including PrimeSafe, Dairy Food Safety Victoria, local councils, other state government departments, such as Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and a range peak food industry bodies.
The FSU also works with a number of internal areas within the department, including Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Unit, the Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and the Office of the Chief Health Officer, especially during multi-jurisdictional outbreaks of food-borne illness.