Food standards and safety

Australia has strict regulations and standards to make sure our foods are safe – whether local or imported. Read about Australia’s standards, labelling and food safety.

Food standards in Australia

Keeping food safe and free from contamination is critical to public health. Australia has legislation and regulations to make sure local and imported food is safe to eat.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand:

The Australian Government and state and territory governments enforce the standards, in line with their food legislation

The Department of Agriculture ensures that imported products meet our strict biosecurity laws and food standards.

Food labelling

In Australia, legislation requires most packaged foods to have a label so that everyone can make informed decisions about what they eat and drink. Labels must include:

The voluntary Health Star Rating system is a quick and easy way to compare the nutrition in similar foods – the more stars, the healthier the food.

Companies can make nutrition claims (like low fat) or health claims (like good for your bones) on the front of the packaging. While the food must meet certain criteria to back these claims up, it’s still important to read and understand the nutrition information.

The National Measurement Institute administers the laws for selling foods by weights and measures. It works with the Australian food sector to test, analyse and measure foods to ensure accurate labelling and food safety.

Read more about food labelling requirements and understanding food labels.

Storing, handling and serving food safely

Australia has a reliable, safe and nutritious food supply. But food poisoning still happens.

There are more than 5 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year, both through businesses and at home. Storing, handling and serving food safely can prevent this.

Food safety is everyone’s responsibility. By law, businesses and not-for-profit organisations must follow food standards to keep people safe from food-related illness. But it’s important for individuals too, as many cases of food poisoning happen at home.

Food safety includes:

Read the food safety standards or InfoBites for how to store, handle and serve food in a way that keeps everyone safe.

Food recalls

To protect public health and safety, businesses must immediately remove from distribution, sale and consumption any food found to be unsafe.

This could be for many reasons, including contamination, incorrect labelling or a packaging fault.

Food Safety Australia New Zealand coordinates and monitors food recalls. Read more about how food recalls work in Australia and any current food recalls.

Food safety in emergencies

Emergencies, such as flood and fire, can contaminate food and water supplies or block access to shops.

The Australian Government and state and territory governments work to restore access to food as quickly as possible following an emergency.

But there are things you can do to make sure you have safe food and water at home before, during and after emergencies.

Read about what you can do in an emergency at:

Last updated: 
17 June 2021

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.