Food handling

The requirements for handling food for sale for human consumption are outlined in 3.2.2 Food Safety Practices and General Requirements and 3.2.3. Food Premises and Equipment of the Food Standards Code. These are on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website at

The requirements also apply to pre-packaged food and low-risk food. Factsheets and user guides (including for charitable and community not-for-profit organisations) are available on the Food Authority website at

Food suppliers

Obtain fresh produce and products from reputable suppliers, as generally they operate under strict quality guidelines. Keep copies of invoices for trace back if needed in the future.

Preparing food at home

Notification of food business details, construction, facilities, labelling and food handling requirements of the Food Act 2003 apply equally to home situations as to commercial operations. This also applies to pre-packaged and low- risk produce and foods.

Approval to use homes for food handling may also be required by local councils. The local council should be contacted in these situations. The factsheet Home based and mixed food businesses is on the Food Authority’s website.

Food storage

  1. Food businesses must ensure that all foods are stored so that they are protected from likely contamination and that the environmental conditions will not adversely affect the safety or suitability of the
  2. There must be separately located storage facilities for items such as chemicals, clothing and personal belongings that may contaminate food or food contact
  3. Food should be stored at least 150 mm above the floor or in suitable containers and, where possible, kept out of direct
  4. Ensure that potentially hazardous foods are received under temperature control and within their use-by
  5. Potentially hazardous foods such as poultry, meat, dairy products, seafood and egg-based products must be stored under temperature control. If intended to be stored frozen, the food must remain frozen during (See guideline: Potentially hazardous foods: Foods that require temperature control for safety).
  6. Refrigeration facilities should be large enough to hold potentially hazardous foods under temperature control at all times. This may require the use of portable coolrooms. Do not overstock refrigerators or portable coolrooms as the air will not be able to circulate freely around the foods. Perishable cold foods should be kept

Potentially hazardous foods and temperature control

One of the most common causes of foodborne illness is the storage and display of potentially hazardous foods at inadequate temperatures for extended periods. This can lead to the rapid and sustained growth of food poisoning bacteria.

Examples of potentially hazardous foods include:

  • cooked meat
  • dairy products
  • seafood
  • prepared salads, raw salad vegetables
  • cooked rice and pasta
  • processed soya bean products
  • other processed foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein-rich foods that contain any of the above foods such as sandwiches and quiches

A food business must, when storing and displaying potentially hazardous food, store it under temperature control. If the food is intended to be stored frozen ensure the food remains frozen during storage and display. Temperature control means maintaining cold food at a temperature of 5°C or below, or hot food at 60°C or above.

Canned and bottled foods, dried or pickled products and some other processed foods such as dried pasta, pasteurised juices and dried powder products, are not considered to be potentially hazardous unless opened or reconstituted.

All food businesses that handle potentially hazardous foods are required to have a readily accessible, accurate, probe-type thermometer (+/- 1°C accuracy). Ensure the thermometer probe is cleaned and sanitised before it is used. It is good practice to monitor the temperature of hot or cold foods under operating conditions to ensure adequate temperature control is being maintained.

Additional information on potentially hazardous food and its management can be found in Potentially hazardous foods: Foods that require temperature control for safety and Food safety guidelines on applying the 4-hour/2-hour rule for temperature control at

Cross contamination

Adequate measures must be taken to prevent cross contamination from raw foods to cooked foods. This includes:

  • ensuring there are separate utensils for cooked and raw meats, poultry and seafood,
  • covering all food,
  • keeping cooked meat and salads separate from raw meat, raw poultry, raw seafood and unwashed raw vegetables, and
  • washing hands after handling raw meats, raw poultry, raw seafood and raw

Food display

When displaying food, take all practicable measures to protect the food from likely contamination by customers, dust, fumes or pests. This may mean using plastic food wraps, sealed containers, sneeze barriers, food covers or other effective measures.

Crockery, wrappings and packaging

  1. Single-use, disposable eating and drinking utensils are
  2. Machine glasswashers or dishwashers are recommended if reusable dinnerware or tableware is
  3. Crockery or plastic wares that are chipped, cracked, broken or in a state of disrepair must not be used in connection with
  4. Packaging material must be suitable for food packaging and unlikely to cause food contamination. Only clean unprinted paper, food wraps or packaging must be used for wrapping or storing

Single-use items

Single-use straws, eating utensils and other items that come into contact with food or the mouth of a person, must be protected from contamination until use and not re-used.

Skills and knowledge

All food businesses must ensure that their food handlers have skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene matters appropriate to their work activities.

Charitable and community not-for-profit organisations are exempt from this requirement if they sell foods that are not potentially hazardous (e.g. cakes without cream, biscuits, bottled jam or pickles), or foods which are to be consumed immediately after thorough cooking (e.g. sausage sizzles, hamburgers and spring rolls). (See boxed section p6.)

Food Safety Supervisor

In addition to basic skills and knowledge requirements for all food handlers, certain food businesses need to appoint one Food Safety Supervisor (FSS). The FSS requirement applies if your business is processing and selling food by retail that is:

  • ready-to-eat, and
  • potentially hazardous (i.e. requires temperature control), and
  • unpackaged (i.e. not sold and served in the supplier’s original package).

One FSS needs to be appointed for each food vending vehicle. A copy of the FSS certificate must be kept in the vehicle. You do not need to notify the local council of your FSS.

Mobile food vending vehicles which are garaged in another state are required to have an FSS certificate if operating in NSW. FSS certificates can be obtained from the Food Authority for a small fee upon submission of appropriate training documents.

For more information on Food Safety Supervisor requirements go to

Staff illness

A person who is unwell or suffering from a contagious illness must not handle food for sale. Symptoms may include cold or flu symptoms, diarrhoea, vomiting, sore throat with fever, fever or jaundice and infectious skin conditions.

A food handler must notify their supervisor if they know or suspect that they may have contaminated food.

Requirements for food handlers

When engaged in any food handling operation, a food handler must:

  • not contaminate food or food contact surfaces with their body or clothing,
  • prevent unnecessary contact with ready-to-eat food,
  • wear only clean outer clothing,
  • cover all dressing and bandages on exposed body parts with a waterproof dressing,
  • not eat over uncovered food or food contact surfaces,
  • not sneeze, blow or cough over uncovered food or surfaces likely to come into contact with food,
  • not spit, smoke or use tobacco while working in the food stall, and
  • not urinate or defecate except in a

Hand washing

A food handler must wash his or her hands using soap and warm water, then dry them with single-use towels:

  • before commencing or re-commencing handling food,
  • immediately before handling ready-to-eat food after handling raw food,
  • immediately after using the toilet,
  • immediately after smoking, coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or tissue, eating, drinking or touching his or her hair, scalp or a body opening, and before using disposable gloves for handling food. If wearing gloves, you should change them as often as you are required to wash your

Money handling/touching customers’ hands when serving food

While the likelihood of contamination from customers’ hands when exchanging money is low, consideration should be given to minimising the risk. Examples include using a disposable glove, or where sufficient staff is available, nominating one to handle money.

Cleaning and sanitising

  1. The vehicle must be maintained to a standard of cleanliness where there is no accumulation of garbage or recycled matter (except in appropriate containers), food waste, dirt, grease or other visible
  2. All fixtures, fittings and equipment must be maintained and cleaned so there is no accumulation of food waste, dirt, grease or other visible
  3. Eating and drinking utensils must be in a clean and sanitary condition immediately before each
  4. Bench tops, surfaces of equipment in contact with food, and storage appliances, must be kept in a clean and sanitary condition to reduce the likelihood of contaminating food. ‘Sanitary’ means cleaning first, followed by heat and/or chemical treatment at the right concentration, or some other process to reduce the number of

bacteria to a level unlikely to compromise the safety of the food. ‘Food-grade’ chlorine-based sanitisers can be used for this purpose.

  1. The containers used for chemical storage should be appropriately
  2. Chemicals must not be stored near the food or any packaging likely to come in contact with food to avoid the risk of
  3. It is recommended that a documented cleaning schedule is devised and


The following requirements are outlined in more detail in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSC), which can be viewed on the website of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). For detailed advice on labelling requirements, please contact the Food Authority.

Pre-packaged products must be clearly labelled with:

  1. a description of the food, e.g. ‘strawberry jam’ or ‘chocolate cake’
  2. the name and physical address of the supplier ‒ a street address is needed, not a post office box number or email address
  3. production lot identification ‒ this assists trace back of food products that may be the cause of a foodborne illness or other food safety issues (date coding can in some circumstances satisfy the requirement for a lot number)
  4. mandatory, advisory or warning statements (refer to Standard 2.3 Mandatory Warnings and Advisory Statements and Declarations of the Food Standards Code) are required for the following:
    • royal jelly
    • the presence of these eight allergenic foods: peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, crustaceans, eggs, fish, milk and soybeans; as well as gluten and added sulphites
    • presence of pollen, propolis, quinine and caffeine (added either as caffeine or guarana)
    • milk and milk substitute products advising that they are not suitable as a complete milk replacement in children under five
    • foods containing added phytosterols and phytostanols, advising about their appropriate consumption
    • foods containing aspartame, advising about the presence of phenylalanine
    • mandatory advisory statements on foods containing polyols and polydextrose, advising about the potential laxative effects if over consumed
    • unpasteurised goats milk (it is illegal to sell unpasteurised milk or dairy products in NSW, except for goats milk and products permitted under Standard 2.4A Primary Production and Processing Standard for Specific Cheeses of the Food Standards Code)
  5. a list of ingredients including added water in descending order by ingoing weight
  6. date marking, e.g. ‘best before’ date to indicate how long the food will keep. (Note that some foods require a ‘use-by’ date and must not be sold after that date. Packaged foods that need to be consumed within a particular time period for health and safety reasons should carry date marking in the form of a use-by date, along with other labelling details)
  7. storage conditions, if these are needed for health and safety reasons, or to achieve its stated storage life, e.g. ‘Keep refrigerated’
  8. nutrition information panel ‒ most packaged food should display a nutrition information panel (NIP), however some foods are exempt from this requirement
  9. characterising ingredient ‒ a characterising ingredient (% labelling) means it is mentioned in the name of the food. For example, with strawberry jam, the label should show the percentage (%) of strawberries in the ingredient list
  10. the country in which the food was made, produced or packaged, and whether it contains imported and/or local ingredients

While unpackaged foods are exempt from most labelling requirements, consumers who have known allergies need to know if a particular ingredient is present in the food they are eating. Standard 1.2.3 of the Food Standards Code requires warning statement of the presence of royal jelly to be displayed on, or near, the food containing it.

The presence of the other allergenic foods ‒ listed under item d) above ‒ needs to be indicated either by a display on or near the food, or declared to the purchaser on request. The presence of certain other foods, such as bee pollen, propolis, aspartame, guarana and phytosterols, trigger requirements for specific advisory statements.

Information about these requirements can be found in Standard 1.2.3 Mandatory Warning and Advisory Statements and Declarations of the Food Standards Code.

Food sold at stalls that raise money solely for charitable or community causes, and not for personal financial gain, are exempt from labelling requirements, except for the need to declare the presence of royal jelly. The presence of allergens, the directions for storage and use and the country of origin of seafood, pork and fresh fruit and vegetables need to be provided on request.