Legislation and regulations

Food Standards Code

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is the Federal authority responsible for the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. The Code is the overarching standard for food safety in Australia, and is enforced by state departments and local councils.  The Federal Government is responsible for inspecting and sampling imported food.

The Code is split into four sections:

  1. Introduction and standards that apply to all food – covers labelling requirements, substances that can be added to food, safety of materials in contact with food, permissions for new foods, limits for chemical and microbiological contaminants, and maximum residue limits of veterinary and chemical residues in foods.
  2. Food standards - compositional requirements for specific foods e.g. meat, fish and alcoholic beverages.
  3. Food safety standards (Australia only) – provides a risk-based, preventative approach to providing safe and suitable food.
  4. Primary production standards (Australia only) - primary production and processing standards for agricultural commodities such as seafood, poultry meat, specific cheeses, wine and dairy products.

Contact FSANZ on 02 6271 2222 or visit the FSANZ website.

Food Act 2006

The Queensland Food Act 2006 is the primary food safety legislation in Queensland and applies to all food businesses in the state. It requires that food sold is safe, suitable for human consumption and meets all standards set out in the Food Standards Code.

Queensland Health, in partnership with councils, regulates and monitors food safety across the Queensland food industry. This includes food business licensing, inspections and food safety training requirements.

The Food Act 2006 does not apply to:

  • the handling and sale of food at a tuckshop operated by a parents and citizens association at a State school; or
  • the handling, at a person’s home, of food intended to be given away to a non-profit organisation for sale by the organisation (eg, baking a cake at a home to give to a junior football club committee for sale by the committee at a fundraising stall.)

If you are a non-profit organisation, different rules may apply.

Council requirements

Councils are responsible for food business licencing, monitoring compliance, providing education and advice, and taking enforcement action when needed.

Cairns Regional Council’s Environmental Health Officers play an important role in monitoring food safety. They are authorised to:

  • Enter a food business property when open to the public
  • Gather appropriate evidence to ensure compliance with the Food Act 2006
  • Take samples
  • Issue penalty infringement notices (fines)
  • Suspend or revoke a Food Business Licence due to the unsuitability of the licensee, non-compliance with conditions of a licence and/or due to a serious risk to public health or safety

What happens if I don't comply?

The greatest risk if you don’t comply with the Food Act requirements, is that you could cause food poisoning to your customers which can result in serious illness and in extreme cases, even death. Additionally, you could be  fined, prosecuted andyour business may be closed down.

Suspended or cancelled licence

For serious offences, Food Business Licences may be suspended or cancelled. This effectively closes your food business and prevents further trading.

Significant fines

Fines (penalty infringement notices) may be issued for each offence committed..


Serious food safety breaches, may result in the prosecution of proprietors, managers and/or individual food handlers.

Reputation damage

If your customers become sick from the food you sell, it is very likely that your business reputation will suffer.

Insurances may be voided

If you are trading without an appropriate licence, you insurance may not cover you when needed.

Other laws, regulations and approvals

Visit the Queensland Government’s Business Portal or phone 13 25 23 to check for any other licences, permits or approvals that may be required.

Liquor licensing

Liquor licensing permits are obtained from the Queensland Government’s liquor licensing division. Phone 07 4637 6000 or visit the Business Portal website to find out how to obtain a liquor licence and obligations of liquor licensees in Queensland.

Footpath dining

If you want to put tables and chairs on the Council’s footpath for your customers,you will need to apply for a footpath dining permit . For further information, see  our footpath dining information page.

Advertising and signage

Most kinds of outdoor advertising signs - including banners, signs on poles, and electronic or illuminated signage - require a Council permit or Planning Approval to make sure the advertisements and associated structures complement the area where they are installed. Read our advertising signs webpage to check if your outdoor advertising and signs will need a permit.

Business registration

Business name registration is governed by the Australian Government Business Registration Service.

You will also need an Australian Business Number (ABN) – register online at Australian Business Register.

Local laws approvals

If you intend to operate on the road, footpath or any other Council controlled area you may require a local law approval . Such approvals may include a general activity permit for activities on Council owned or controlled land or a road permit for activities on a road .

Industry associations

There are numerous associations that assist people in the food industry, including:

Labelling and packaging

Queensland Health can provide information about the Food Safety Standards that relate to labelling and packaging requirements. For further information contact Queensland Health on 07 4699 8240 or visit their website for information on food labelling standards for all food businesses.

Last updated: 16 June 2020