Food safety for seed sprout producers

Seed sprouts are a high-risk horticulture product. They represent a food safety concern due to the potential for harmful bacteria, which might be present in the seed, to grow rapidly during the germination and sprouting of the seeds.

Bunch of seed sprouts

Consumption of contaminated seed sprouts has been linked to significant foodborne illness outbreaks across Australia and internationally.

For further questions on the regulation of seed sprout producers in Victoria, please contact

What are seed sprouts?

Seed sprouts means sprouted seeds or sprouted beans for human consumption. They 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.

Production and processing standard for seed sprouts

Standard 4.2.6 — Production and processing standard for seed sprouts (the Standard) started in 2013 and forms part of the national Food Standards Code (FSC). The FSC sets out requirements for minimising risks associated with the production of seed sprouts.

Who the Standard applies to

The Standard applies to people conducting any or all of the following activities for producing seed sprouts:

  • 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.

Adopting 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 producers comply with the Standard.

Seed sprout producers are required to:

  • notify Agriculture Victoria conducting seed sprout production activities
  • have, and follow, a food safety management statement.

Penalties for non-compliance

Compliance with the requirements in the FSC helps to ensure that seed sprouts are safe and suitable for human consumption.

Significant penalties apply for a person found not to be complying with a requirement imposed by the FSC.

Food safety management statements

A food safety management statement assists producers to identify and control the food safety hazards associated with seed sprout production. For example, the statement requires producers to ensure that seed is tested for the presence of pathogens, and keep records of the results.

A food safety management statement is:

Refer to the Guide for a copy of the food safety management statement and guidelines to support safe food production.

Food safety incidents in Victoria

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is the lead agency responsible for food safety incident management. Agriculture Victoria supports DHHS to investigate food safety incidents associated with primary food production.

See Food safety information for consumers for information about food safety in Victoria, including food recalls, or to make a complaint about a food business.

Register with your local council if you sell seed sprouts direct to 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.

Go to Streatrader to find out more about your obligations when selling product directly to the public.

Page last updated: 23 Jun 2020