Victoria's Food Safety Regulatory Framework

Victoria's Food Safety Regulatory Framework comprises representative and regulatory bodies at the following levels:

  • national
  • Victorian
  • local (councils).

A flow diagram showing processes in the Food Safety Regulatory Framework

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At a national level:

  • The Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Australia and New Zealand) sets policy and receives advice from the Food Regulation Standing Committee.
  • Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) creates standards for consideration.

At a state level, the Victorian food regulatory system implements this policy. Responsibility is split between:

  • the Minister for Health, through the Department of Health, who sets policy under the Food Act 1984 and provides statewide strategy and policy guidance and advice to local councils
  • the Minister for Agriculture, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, who sets primary production food policy under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 and the Food Act 1984, and oversees:
    • Dairy Food Safety Victoria, which regulates businesses under the Dairy Act 2000
    • PrimeSafe, which regulates businesses under the Meat Industry Act 1993 and the Seafood Safety Act 2003
  • local councils (represented by the Municipal Association of Victoria), regulate other food businesses with matters broadly overseen by the Minister for Local Government.

National regulators

Note: All food businesses that export must be accredited by the Department of Agriculture.

Food Ministers' Meeting

he Food Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) is primarily responsible for the development of domestic food regulatory policy and the development of policy guidelines for setting domestic food standards. FMM also has the capacity to adopt, amend or reject standards and to request that these be reviewed.

Membership of FMM comprises:

  • a Minister from New Zealand
  • the Health Ministers from Australian states and territories
  • the Australian Government
  • other Ministers from related portfolios (for example Agriculture, Consumer Affairs) where these have been nominated by their jurisdictions.

This ensures a whole-of-food-chain approach to food safety regulation.

For more information go to the Food regulation website.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is a bi-national Government agency. Its main responsibility is to develop and administer the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, which lists requirements for foods such as additives, food safety, labelling and GM foods.

In Australia, FSANZ prepares standards across the food supply chain, including Primary Production and Processing Standards and Standards for food hygiene. FSANZ also sets residue limits in food for agricultural and veterinary products.

FSANZ develops standards in consultation with other government agencies and stakeholders. Standards are then implemented by the relevant government authority.

Food Regulation Standing Committee

Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) is a sub-committee of FMM. Membership of FRSC comprises senior officials of departments for which the ministers represented on FMM have portfolio responsibility.

FRSC coordinates policy advice to FMM and ensures a nationally consistent approach to the implementation and enforcement of food standards. It also advises FMM on the initiation, review and development of FRSC activities.

Implementation Sub-committee on Food Regulation

Implementation Sub-committee on Food Regulation (ISFR) is a sub-committee of FRSC. Its role is to develop and oversee a consistent approach across jurisdictions to implementation and enforcement of food regulations and standards, regardless of whether food is sourced from domestic producers, export-registered establishments or from imports.

ISFR is a mechanism whereby Australian and New Zealand food regulators may discuss common approaches to the implementation of food regulation or food standards and develop tools to assist in achieving consistent implementation.

Victorian regulators

Food standards in Victoria are implemented by Victorian food safety regulators. A Memorandum of Understanding operates between Victorian food regulators. Signatories are Department of Health and Human Services (now Department of Health), Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (food safety functions now under the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action), Dairy Food Safety Victoria, PrimeSafe and the Municipal Association of Victoria.

Victorian Food Regulators Forum

The Food Regulators Forum comprises senior representatives of:

  • the Victorian Department of Health
  • the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action
  • Dairy Food Safety Victoria
  • PrimeSafe
  • the Municipal Association of Victoria.

It promotes ongoing coordination and cooperation between regulators.

Department of Health

Department of Health (DH) has general oversight of the administration of the Victorian Food Act 1984. The Act provides the regulatory framework for the food industry to ensure that food sold for consumption in Victoria is safe, suitable and correctly labelled.

It has a statutory responsibility to provide guidance to councils to promote consistent statewide application of the Act.

DH is responsible for developing policies, guidelines and risk management frameworks for the state, and has a last resort power to direct councils on matters of policy and administration.

It also responds to food incidents and emergencies, and coordinates a response when more than one municipality is involved.

DH has a range of other functions to ensure the proper operation of the Act, such as:

  • approving auditors, analysts and food safety program templates
  • setting requirements for sampling numbers
  • providing guidance to local government and auditors about the Act to promote a consistent approach across the state.

For more information go to health.vic.

DH provides policy advice to the Minister for Health.

Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action

Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) provides policy advice to the Minister for Agriculture.

DEECA administers the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 and Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992, and is responsible for on-farm food safety for eggs and seed sprouts under the Food Act.

Dairy Food Safety Victoria

Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV) is a statutory authority established under the Dairy Act and reports to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture.

It is the independent regulator of Victoria's dairy industry and administers the Dairy Act 2000.

DFSV licenses all Victorian dairy premises — including dairy farmers, milk carriers, dairy manufacturers and distributors — and approves and ensures compliance with food safety programs.


PrimeSafe regulates the safety of meat, poultry and seafood in Victoria under the Meat Industry Act 1993 and the Seafood Safety Act 2003 and reports to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture.

Its functions include control and review of Standards for construction and hygiene at meat and seafood processing facilities through a licensing and inspection system and audited quality assurance programs.

Facilities licensed by PrimeSafe under the Meat Industry Act include:

  • abattoirs
  • knackeries
  • processors
  • retail outlets (other than supermarkets).

Facilities licensed by PrimeSafe under the Seafood Safety Act include:

  • seafood producers and harvesters
  • wholesalers
  • processors
  • retailers.

PrimeSafe also regulates vehicles transporting meat and seafood.

Municipal Association of Victoria

Municipal Association of Victoria is the peak representative body for Victoria's municipal councils. It advocates on behalf of local government and represents Victoria's 79 councils on the Victorian Food Regulators Forum, but is not a regulator.

It works with state and local government agencies so that the Victorian food safety regulations are practical and efficient for councils to implement.

Local government regulators

Municipal councils

Councils regulate all food businesses not licensed by PrimeSafe or DFSV by registering them under the Food Act.

Councils also assist the Department of Health with food recalls and food sampling activities, and respond to complaints about food safety relating to local businesses selling food in their municipalities.

Page last updated: 21 Nov 2023