Producing seed sprouts in Victoria
The information on this page is intended to assist seed sprout producers to understand their obligations to produce safe food and manage risks associated with seed sprout production.
Seed sprouts are a high-risk horticulture product. They represent a food safety concern due to the potential for harmful bacteria, that may be present in the seed, to grow rapidly during the germination and sprouting of the seeds.
Consumption of contaminated seed sprouts has been linked to significant food-borne illness outbreaks across Australia and internationally.
What are seed sprouts?
Seed sprouts means sprouted seeds or sprouted beans for human consumption and include alfalfa, mung beans, onion, broccoli, radish or any other type of sprout that includes the seed or part of the seed in the final product.
Standard 4.2.6 – Production and processing standard for seed sprouts (the Standard)
The Standard commenced in 2013 and forms part of the national Food Standards Code which is overseen by Food Standards Australia New Zealand and sets out requirements for minimising risks associated with the production of seed sprouts. A copy of the Standard can be located at foodstandards.gov.au.
Does the Standard apply to me?
The Standard applies to people conducting any of the below activities:
- decontamination of seed or seed sprouts;
- soaking of seed;
- germination or growth of seed;
- harvest of seed sprouts; or
- washing, drying or packing seed sprouts.
Adoption of the Standard in Victoria
Compliance with the Standard is mandatory in Victoria under the Food Act 1984.
Agriculture Victoria has responsibility for regulating, and ensuring compliance with, the standard.
Seed sprout producers are required to do the following:
- notify Agriculture Victoria if you are conducting seed sprout production activities
- have, and follow, a food safety management statement.
As a seed sprout producer, you must ensure that seed sprouts sold are safe and suitable for human consumption.
Significant penalties apply for a person found not to be complying with a requirement imposed by the Food Standards Code.
Food safety management statements
A food safety management statement assists producers to identify and control food safety hazards associated with seed sprout production. For example, requiring producers to ensure seed is tested for the presence of pathogens, and keeping records of the results.
A food safety management statement is:
- the template that forms part of the Guide: Food safety for seed sprout producers (WORD - 1.5 MB) (the Guide); or
- part of a food safety management system that has been recognised by Agriculture Victoria.
Refer to the Guide for a copy of the food safety management statement and guidance to support safe food production.
Food safety incidents
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is the lead agency responsible for food safety incident management.
Agriculture Victoria has a role to assist DHHS with investigating food safety incidents associated with primary food production.
For information regarding food safety in Victoria, including food recalls, or to make a complaint about a food business, please see health.vic.gov.au: Food safety information for consumers.
Requirement to register with your local council if you sell seed sprouts directly to the public
If you are selling seed sprouts directly to the public, such as at a stall or market, you must register with your local council. Please refer to streatrader.health.vic.gov.au to understand your obligations when selling product directly to the public.