Food regulation and safety

The government regulates the food industry so food is safe to eat and consumers can make informed choices about food.

The department works with industry and other Australian government agencies— particularly the Department of Health and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)—in developing food regulation policy and domestic food standards that:

  • provides safe food controls to protect health and safety
  • reduces the burden of laws and compliance on the food sector
  • helps align Australia's and New Zealand’s domestic and export food standards, and facilitate their harmonisation with international food standards
  • provides cost effective compliance and enforcement arrangements for industry, government and consumers
  • recognises that responsibility for food safety includes all levels of government
  • supports the joint Australian and New Zealand efforts to harmonise food standards.

The Food Regulatory System

The Australia and New Zealand food regulatory system involves the Australian Government, New Zealand and Australian states and territories. In this system food standards are developed under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, which is administered by FSANZ and enforced by state and territory governments.

Food standards are applied across the food supply chain—from paddock to plate—and cover:

  • general food standards (including labelling requirements),
  • specific food product standards (including genetically modified foods), and
  • food safety standards.

Australian and New Zealand food standards take into account domestic policy guidelines as well as Codex Alimentarius international food standards. The department encourages industry and the community to participate in developing our food regulatory policy and food standards.

Imported Food

The department administers relevant legislation including the Food Standards Code at the border. All imported food must meet Australia's biosecurity requirements (under the Biosecurity Act 2015) and food safety requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

Labelling on imported food is assessed for compliance with the requirements under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme.