Victorian Food Regulators Memorandum of Understanding
Dairy Food Safety Victoria
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Department of Health and Human Services
Municipal Association of Victoria
1.1 Victoria’s food safety regulation occurs in the context of a bi-national food regulatory system. Under the Food Regulation Agreement between the Commonwealth and the Australian States and Territories, Victoria has an obligation to implement national food safety standards issued by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
1.2 The Food Act 1984 is the means by which the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) is applied in Victoria to all food businesses. Industry specific legislation regulates primary production and processing in the dairy (Dairy Act 2000), seafood (Seafood Safety Act 2003), meat and poultry (Meat Industry Act 1993) industries.
1.3 The Victorian legislative framework aims to ensure that food for sale is both safe and suitable for human consumption.
1.4 This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aims to facilitate a ‘joined up’, effective and efficient Victorian food regulatory system that protects public health and safety, and facilitates market access for Victorian commodities.
1.5 The parties to this MoU agree to collaborate to ensure the effective management of food safety risks by food businesses using relevant legislation, standards, licensing or registration, compliance monitoring and enforcement.
1.6 This MoU is not legally binding. It describes the commitment of each of the parties to administer food regulation in Victoria in accordance with the agreed schedules attached.
2.1 The specific objectives of the MoU are to:
- Protect public health and safety through the integrated administration of food safety related regulation in Victoria.
- Provide clarity about the roles and responsibilities of each party in Victoria’s food regulatory system, including during food safety incidents.
- Support consistent application of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code).
- Facilitate clear and accurate communication between regulators.
3.1 The MoU is underpinned by the following guiding principles:
- The food regulatory system protects public health and promotes consumer confidence in the food supply.
- Food regulators ensure effective administration of Victoria’s food regulatory system.
- Regulation is the minimum required to achieve desired outcomes.
- Issues and disputes between regulators are actively managed to ensure the efficient and effective management of food safety risk.
- The food regulatory system is accountable and transparent to regulated businesses and the public.
- Administration of Victorian food safety regulation incorporates the objectives and principles of the 2014 Victorian State - Local Government Agreement.
4. Roles of the parties to this MoU
4.1 Dairy Food Safety Victoria
Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV) is established under the Dairy Act 2000 to ensure that standards which safeguard public health are maintained in the Victorian dairy industry.
Its functions include establishing, maintaining and improving food safety standards of dairy food, approving and monitoring food safety programs in dairy businesses, administering a licensing system and, in consultation with DHHS, protecting public health. The Food Act also provides that DFSV can make orders relating to licensed dairy premises and that authorised officers of DFSV can apply provisions of the Food Act.
4.2 Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
In accordance with the Food Act, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) has responsibility to facilitate the exercise of powers and functions of the Secretary in relation to primary food production and related activities. This includes on-farm food safety for eggs and seed sprouts.
As part of its statutory role to promote the objects of the Food Act, DJPR assists DHHS with relevant food safety investigation and incident response associated with primary food production and related activities.
4.3 Department of Health and Human Services
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is responsible for the enforcement and administration of the Food Act 1984 in Victoria directly and through the provision of advice and support to local government.
It also has broad responsibilities for public health under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. DHHS assesses and investigates potential foodborne disease risks in conjunction with relevant regulators, with a view to managing risk to public health from food.
4.4 Municipal Association of Victoria
Victoria’s 79 local governments are represented by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) in this MoU. While MAV is not a food safety regulator, it works with government agencies to optimise coordination with local government where greater consistency has been identified as being critical to the operation of a well-functioning regulatory system for food safety. MAV will collaborate with local governments as appropriate.
4.5 Local governments
Victoria’s 79 local governments are responsible for the registration of food businesses, in accordance with the Food Act. Local governments may also have other regulatory functions and obligations in relation to businesses regulated by other bodies.
These include planning, building, nuisance provisions in accordance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, and local by-laws.
PrimeSafe is established under the Meat Industry Act, 1993. Under the Meat Industry Act and the Seafood Safety Act 2003 PrimeSafe regulates businesses in the meat, poultry, seafood and pet food industries in Victoria.
These food businesses as defined by legislation are required to be licensed by PrimeSafe and are subject to audits of their food safety program. PrimeSafe’s functions include the control and review of standards for meat, poultry and game meat for human consumption.
The Food Act also provides that PrimeSafe can make orders relating to meat processing facilities or seafood businesses and that PrimeSafe authorised officers can apply provisions of the Food Act.
5. Determining the regulator responsible for licensing or registration, compliance monitoring and enforcement
Parties to the MoU will determine the regulator responsible for licensing or registration, compliance monitoring and enforcement by agreement between two or more parties, having reference to the objectives and principles of this MoU.
6. Food safety incident investigation (Schedule 1)
Parties to the MoU will investigate food safety incidents in accordance with Schedule 1.
7. Interpretation and application of the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code (Schedule 2)
Parties to the MoU will interpret and apply the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code in accordance Schedule 2.
8. Complaints about food businesses (Schedule 3)
Parties to the MoU will handle complaints about food businesses and misleading and deceptive conduct in accordance with Schedule 3.
9. Information use and disclosure
The sharing of information between the parties to facilitate co-operation will be subject to the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and the principal Acts of the regulators.
No information relating to complainants shall be disclosed to third parties unless this is appropriate, and authorised by law. Information relating to complaints may be provided to third parties without consent in accordance with these laws. Ordinarily the consent of the information provider will be sought.
10. Resolution of disagreements
If there is a dispute between parties about this MoU and schedules, those parties will meet and work together expeditiously to ensure the issue is resolved and stakeholders are not adversely affected.
11. Term of the memorandum of understanding
The MoU will be subject to an ongoing review for a period of not less than every three years from the date of signing of this document.
12. Variation of the memorandum of understanding
The MoU may be amended with the agreement of all parties at any time.
13. Termination of memorandum of understanding
- 13.1 The MoU may be terminated if the parties agree the MoU is no longer required.
- 13.2 If one or more of the parties ceases to exist or seek to withdraw from the MoU, the intent of the MoU may still be valid for the other parties. In that instance the MoU may be amended to reflect the change in signatories.