Paddock to Plate: Legislation and Regulation

All this week on Table Talk we are covering the theme of Direct Marketing.
This form of marketing is also referred to as Direct to Consumer, Paddock to Plate, Farm to Fork or Fibre to Fashion!

In our three articles on the theme we will concentrate on:

  1. An introduction to Direct Marketing on Farm: Should I? Could I?
  2. Direct to Consumer Food Businesses: Legislation and Regulation
  3. Direct Marketing: Producer Stories and Lessons

In our first post, we introduced the concept on Direct Marketing and supplied some handy guides to learn more. We noted the Australian landscape is a little hard to navigate on this subject due to the lack of material available to help you analyse and evaluate the potential opportunity and guide you to get set up.

Today, we try to make the process a little easier by rounding up relevant regulation you will need to consider and be aware of when setting up a direct food business. Ensuring you comply is just one step of the process and we recommend re-reading our first post to help understand the end-to-end business requirements.

What are my food safety requirements and obligations?

Every business in Australasia that handles food for sale in Australia (except those involved solely in primary production and do not process or sell directly to the public) are bound by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand. In particular, the Primary Production and Processing (PPP) standards are relevant – they “aim to strengthen food safety and traceability throughout the food supply chain, from paddock to plate.”

There are six standards:

What about horticulture? There has been a proposal to develop a standard for horticulture. However, “After reviewing submissions received on the first call for submissions report and after targeted consultation with stakeholders, the FSANZ Board agreed to abandon the Proposal in favour of non-regulatory measures.”

What about home-based businesses? If you undertake your business at home, you are subject to the requirements as other food businesses. Home-based businesses must comply with relevant parts of the Food Standards Code, including:

All food sold in Australia must comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code for labelling. Everything said about a food on the label is also subject to Australian Consumer Law, which prohibits false, misleading or deceptive representations.

What about at a state level?

Depending on the type of produce and where it is sold, your obligations for registration and licensing will differ.

Qld

Food Safety in Queensland is the responsibility of Queensland Health. Safe Food Production Queensland “manages the operational aspects of food safety through industry-based food safety schemes for meat, dairy products, seafood and eggs”.

Your business may be required to have an accreditation with Safe Food if you produce, process or transport meat, dairy, eggs, seafood or horticulture.

  • Meat: inc. Handling of an animal at a place where the animal is killed for meat; handling, packaging or storing meat or a meat product; transporting meat obtained from an animal, at any stage from a place where the animal is killed to a retailer of the meat; retail sales of prepackaged meat or a prepackaged meat product if the package is sold opened.
  • Egg products: inc. Producing eggs for supply; washing and handling eggs at a wholesale premises; processing eggs to produce egg product.
  • Seafood:  Commercial fishing; aquaculture activities; land based seafood processing; oyster growing; oyster picking; storing seafood (cold storage and live fish)
  • Horticulture: Decontamination of seed or seed sprouts; soaking of seed; germination or growth of seed; harvest of seed sprouts; washing, drying or packing of seed sprouts.
  • Dairy: inc. milking an animal at a dairy; processing milk at a dairy; storing milk at a dairy; rearing an animal at a dairy for milking at the dairy; growing stock food at a dairy for consumption by an animal to be milked at the dairy; transporting dairy produce.

Queensland food safety legislation includes the Food Act 2006, the Food Regulation 2006, the Food Production (Safety) Act 2000 and the Food Production (Safety) Regulation 2014.

NSW

The NSW Food Authority licences 1,700 businesses in the dairy sector, 300 business in the egg sector, 8,000 businesses in the meat sector, 55 businesses in the plant sector and 1,000 seafood businesses.

The Food Authority in NSW has put together a great flowchart to understand your food safety requirements in NSW. Access it here.

Your business must be licensed with the Food Authority if you:

  • process meat
  • process seafood
  • process dairy
  • process plant products
  • produce/process eggs
  • produce food for vulnerable persons
  • transport higher risk food

If you sell food directly to the public you may have to notify your local council or need a Food Safety Superviser as you may be considered as a retail outlet.

In NSW, the Food Act 2003 (NSW) and Food Regulation 2015 apply.

Vic

In Victoria, any business selling food must be registered or notified with their registering council. All businesses selling food or drink in Victoria must have a Food Act 1984 registration from their registering council before trading. You may need to complete an application form and floor plans to your council. All food businesses must be classified, according to the food safety risk of the business. There are four classes and the most relevant class here is:

  • Class 2 – retail food businesses that prepare and sell potentially hazardous food, including cafés, restaurants, home-based food businesses, food vans, catering businesses and canteens. Class 2 requires a Food Safety Supervisor and food safety program.

Do I need a food licence? “Most primary producers will need to register with certain industry regulators. PrimeSafe is the regulator for most businesses whose main activity is selling raw and processed meats, poultry and seafood.  While, Dairy Food Safety Victoria regulates the dairy industry (Food Safety).”

According to Prime Safe:

  • Under the Meat Industry Act 1993, all meat and poultry processing facilities in Victoria require a licence issued by PrimeSafe in order to operate.
  • Under the Seafood Safety Act 2003, all seafood businesses in Victoria require a licence issued by PrimeSafe in order to operate.
  • At present, there is no licence category that permits the roadside sale of fresh meat and meat products from a vehicle or purpose built mobile facility.
  • The sale of pre-packaged meat and meat products at farmers’ markets is regulated by local council. For more information regarding farmer’s markets, click here.

SA

Under the Food Act 2001:

  • a food business who is involved in the handling of food intended for sale or the sale of food. Before starting food handling operations all food businesses are required to notify their local council.
  • as a primary food production business, you are not required to notify your local council but are regulated under  Primary Produce (Food Safety Schemes) Act 2004 and Dairy Industry Act.

As stated by BiosecuritySA:

  • All meat processing and handling businesses must comply with food safety arrangements in the Meat Scheme
  • You require accreditation if your business is involved in growing poultry, killing and dressing of animals and birds, killing and processing of game animals in the field, boning out and/or further processing of meat and poultry, manufacturing of smallgoods, storing of meat and/or meat product in chillers or freezers, and transportation of meat and/or meat products.
  • Dairy production is regulated by Dairysafe (Dairy Authority of South Australia) under the Primary Produce (Food Safety Schemes) (Dairy) Regulations 2017.
  • Egg producers must be accredited if they are involved in any of the following:
    • Have more than 50 laying birds.
    • Produce and sell eggs to a food business such as a supermarket, café, hotel or bakery.
    • Produce and sell eggs to another egg producer.
    • Produce and sell eggs at a market (e.g. a farmers’ market).
    • Produce and sell eggs by wholesale.
  • Accreditation is required if you’re producing the following types of seed sprouts for human consumption:
    • alfalfa
    • broccoli
    • clover
    • onion
    • radish
    • sunflower seeds or other seeds
    • mung beans or other beans
    • snow peas or other peas.

WA

If intending to sell food for sale, businesses must notify or register with a local government or Department of Health.

You are exempt from requirements of registrations if you are involved in the primary production and sale of fruit and vegetables under the Food Act Act 2008.

We were not able to locate the licensing requirements for a meat business.

NT

If you sell food in the Northern Territory, you must be registered. It is valid for 12 months and must be renewed.

All food Businesses must be registered and comply with provisions of the Food Act 2004 and the Food Standards Code.

 It was difficult to find further information.

ACT

Compliance requirements for food businesses in the ACT are found in Food Act 2011. You have to register your businesses if it is permanent or a non-profit community organised selling food.

You are exempt from registration if:

  • A food business that handles or sells food no more than 5 times a year, where each time is no longer than 3 days and where the food handled or sold is either:
    • non-potentially hazardous unpackaged food (e.g. plain scones, whole fruit at a festival); or
    • food sold straight after thorough cooking, for immediate consumption (e.g. barbecue stall).
  • A food business that handles or sells food in or from a food transport vehicle that is registered in another State/Territory (e.g. a food van registered in NSW);
  • A food business that transports food but does not handle or sell food (e.g. courier);
  • A food business that sells only food that is contained in a closed package and is non-potentially hazardous (e.g. chemist or newsagent).

Find application forms here.


What else is required to set up a Direct Marketing Business?

Just like starting any business, sound business planning is required of which knowing your legal obligations is just one of them. Head over to our Build Library for some handy Business Planning resources. Steps include:

When you start a business

Running your business

There is a handy business guide here.


In our next post we will highlight some case studies and articles about producers who have gone down the direct marketing route.


Disclaimer: This is provided as a guide only and we do not accept responsibility for any decisions made in setting up your direct food business.