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General food safety requirements

All food businesses must ensure that food handlers do not contaminate food. The responsibility is shared between food handlers and food businesses.

Food handlers

Food businesses

The responsibilities of food businesses are outlined in the Australian Food Safety Standards. These two standards relate specifically to food handling and hygiene requirements:

Read about the Responsibilities of food businesses

Food safety practices

Food handling

There are various process control requirements to be satisfied at each step of the food handling process. They cover each of the following steps for food:

  • receipt
  • storage
  • processing
  • display
  • packaging
  • transportation
  • disposal
  • recall.

Personal health and hygiene

Business owners are required to:

  • provide easily accessible hand washing facilities supplied with warm running water, soap and single-use paper towels or other means of effectively drying hands.
  • inform food handlers that they must advise their supervisor if they are suffering an illness or symptoms that involve vomiting, diarrhoea, fever or jaundice, foodborne illness, sore throat with fever, infected skin lesions or have discharges from eyes, nose or ears
  • where there is reasonable likelihood of food contamination, exclude people with any of the above illnesses, conditions or symptoms, from handling food.

Food handlers’ skills and knowledge

Food businesses must ensure that all food handlers in the food business have the skills and knowledge they need to handle food safely. This means they will have skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene which relate to the type of work they do at the food business.

For example, a food handler that handles food only to make sandwiches, only needs to have skills and knowledge in food safety and hygiene to ensure that sandwiches are handled safely. A food handler that cooks and prepares a range of food dishes will need a greater level of skills and knowledge.

Food handlers do not need formal training.  It is up to the business owner/proprietor to make sure food handlers have the required skills and knowledge. You may:

  • provide staff food safety and hygiene information for them to read
  • develop operating rules that set out the responsibilities of food handlers and their supervisors
  • provide 'in house' training by the supervisor or other staff
  • send staff to food safety courses run by other people
  • hire a consultant to run a course for the staff

Read about the Responsibilities of food handlers

Food premises and equipment

All food businesses, whether operating from a new or existing premises, a vehicle, market stall or domestic premises, must comply with Food Safety Standard 3.2.3 - Food premises and equipment.

Owners / proprietors must provide a food premises that:

  • is easy to clean, sanitise and maintain
  • is appropriate for the work of the business
  • is suitable for the jobs they are used for
  • is made of material that does not contaminate food
  • has sufficient space, facilities and suitable equipment to produce safe food
  • provides services such as potable water, effective sewage disposal and sufficient light and ventilation for the food handling activities
  • provides facilities for staff to maintain standards of personal hygiene and equipment cleanliness that will protect food from contamination
  • is protected against the harbourage and entry of pests

More information

Find sets of documents related to:

  • food standards compliance - fact sheets on cleaning, cross contamination and other key requirements for food businesses.
  • food handling tips for businesses - fact sheets on shopping trolleys, baskets and checkout conveyors, personal hygiene requirements for businesses and some specific food types to be aware of.
Last updated: 28 October 2015