Food Safety Management Tools - Frequently asked questions

Find the answers to frequently asked questions about the Food Safety Standards 3.2.2A - Food Safety Management Tools (external site) and how it may apply to your business. Topics include

Background and implementation

What is Food Safety Standard 3.2.2A?

Food Safety Standard 3.2.2A – Food Safety Management Tools (external site) came into effect on 8 December 2022 and adds new requirements for all food service, catering, and retail businesses that handle unpackaged, ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous foods.

Why was the Standard made?

In June 2018, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation found the highest proportion of foodborne illness outbreaks in Australia were from food service and retail businesses.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) along with Australian states and territories developed Standard 3.2.2A to make sure all food handlers in these sectors have adequate food safety skills and knowledge and use practices that keep food safe.

What is different from the existing Food Safety Standards?

The new Standard builds on Standard 3.2.2, by strengthening the requirements for skills and knowledge of food handlers and for businesses to demonstrate they are keeping high-risk food safe.

When do businesses need to meet the requirements?

The new Standard became law on 8 December 2022 and has a 12-month transition period for businesses to comply. This means all affected businesses should comply with the Standard by 8 December 2023.

Will there be a cost to my business?

Some investment is likely needed for businesses to meet Standard 3.2.2A. This may include:

  • providing time for food handlers to complete a food safety training course and/or making sure they have the appropriate skills and knowledge.
  • paying for a food handler to complete Food Safety Supervisor certification, or employing a certified Food Safety Supervisor.
  • developing and/or providing training on processes, records, or other ways to show that the key food safety controls are monitored and managed.

It is important to remember that the Standard is designed to improve the safety of food sold across Australia. Poor food safety can affect the health of your patrons and result in damage to a business’s brand and reputation, a loss of customers, and the potential for legal action by affected consumers. The small investment in meeting the Standard will have substantial gains for your business.

How will meeting the Standard be monitored?

For most businesses compliance with the Standard will be monitored by local government Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) or Food Safety Auditors during routine food safety inspections or audits. Extra inspections or audits should not be required.

What are the penalties for failure to comply with the new Standard?

The penalties for non-compliance with the Food Standards Code are prescribed in the Food Act 2008 (external site) under Section 22 Compliance with Food Standards Code. These penalties have not changed since the introduction of the new Standard.

Which businesses does the Standard apply to?

The Standard applies caterers and food service and retail businesses who handle unpackaged, potentially hazardous, ready-to-eat foods and sell or serve them to the consumer. Check below to see if the following types of activities and organisations are captured by the Standard:

A manufacturer with a retail shop front or food service section

Yes. Businesses with dual activities, such as a manufacturer with a retail, food service or catering section, must implement the Food Safety Management Tools in any areas of the business where retail, food service or catering activities take place.

School canteens and OSHC facilities

Yes. School canteens and out of school hours care (OSHC) facilities who are selling potentially hazardous foods or providing potentially hazardous food as part of a service are captured by the Standard.

A sporting club that operates a kitchen/canteen

Yes. The standard applies to sporting clubs that handle unpackaged potentially hazardous food and sells it to their members or members of public. However, the Standard will not apply to fund raising events. See further explanation below on "Are there any exemptions to the Standard?".

A business that makes and delivers meal packs to consumers

No. Businesses who deliver meal packs, such as pre-portioned meal ingredients or packaged meals for reheating, are not captured by the Standard because the food they sell is not ready-to-eat or served for immediate consumption.

For example, the food delivered by these businesses usually needs storage/refrigeration, assembly, cooking and/or reheating before being eaten and is often eaten a few days after delivery.

If you have any enquires about whether your business is included, contact your local government Environmental Health Officer who will be able to help with the assessment.

An organisation that provides food for free

No. The Food Act 2008 provides a definition of "sell" other than monetary sale. Where food is provided free of charge and does not fall under the definition of "sell" under the Act, these activities are not captured under the Food Act 2008 and compliance with the requirements of Standard 3.2.2A is not required. Safe food handling practices are always encouraged where food is prepared for others.

A coffee van/outlet and bubble tea shop that sells ONLY coffee and beverages made to order for immediate consumption

No. Coffee, beverages and bubble tea made to order for immediate consumption is considered low risk. If the food business handles other types of unpackaged potentially hazardous food, they will need to comply with the Standards.

An ice cream van/outlet that only serves ice cream (not soft serve) for immediate consumption

No. Ice cream (not soft serve) only served (not made) for immediate consumption is considered low risk. Note that soft serve ice cream has a higher risk and will need to comply with Standard 3.2.2A. If the food business handles other types of unpackaged potentially hazardous food, they will need to comply with the Standard.

A retailer selling packaged high-risk foods

No. The Standard only applies to businesses who handle unpackaged potentially hazardous foods for sale or service to the consumer.

Businesses cutting fruits / vegetables for immediate service

No. Businesses that serve only cut fruit and vegetables for immediate service do not need to comply with the new Standard. Whilst whole fruits and vegetables are not potentially hazardous, they become so after cutting. Unrefrigerated cut fruits and vegetables must be thrown out after 4 hours.

Bed and Breakfast and farmstay

The Standard applies to Bed and Breakfasts and farmstays that include food service as part of the accommodation where unpackaged potentially hazardous food (such as, bacon, eggs, sausages, pancakes) is prepared on-site. Bed and Breakfast and farmstays that only serve store-bought packaged milk and juices, and cut fruit and vegetables for immediate service do not need to comply with the new Standard.

A charitable, community or not for profit organisation

If an organisation makes or handles unpackaged potentially hazardous foods and sells it to a consumer they must comply with the Standard, even if the food handlers are volunteers. For example:

  • sporting or community clubs that sells food in a manner similar to a pub or café.
  • school canteens operated by Parent and Community Association (P&C).

The only exemption in the Standard is for food handling activities for or at a fund raising event.

Are there any exemptions to the Standard?

The Standard does not apply to food handling activities for or during a fund raising event. A fund raising event is defined as ‘an event that raises funds solely for a community or charitable cause and not for personal financial gain’. The purpose of the sale of food may also help to indicate if it is a fundraising event, for example regular sale of food in a sporting club to provide a food service to members, compared to ad-hoc fundraising events that are intended to raise funds.

A food business that is an exempted under Regulation 10 of the Food Regulations 2009 will be considered to be a fund raising event and will be exempt from complying with Standard 3.2.2A. These are food businesses that are conducted to raise money solely for purposes that are of a charitable or community nature and handle potentially hazardous food that is cooked and provided for immediate consumption, for example sausage sizzle fundraisers.

Food exemption flowchart

I’m unsure whether this applies to my business or what I need to do, who can I contact for advice?

Contact your local government Environmental Health Officer for more information.
Food handler training

What is a food safety training course?

The Standard states that food safety training courses must teach the following topics:

  • Safe food handling including temperature control measures for potentially hazardous food and the temperature danger zone.
  • Food contamination including ways to keep food from becoming contaminated and food allergen management.
  • Cleaning and sanitising food contact surfaces and equipment including correct procedures, using food-grade chemicals, and sanitising using heat.
  • Personal hygiene including obligations for sick employees, handwashing, uniforms and grooming of hair, nails, and skin.

Do all food handlers need to complete a food safety training course?

All food handlers, including volunteers, who handle unpackaged potentially hazardous foods must complete a food safety training course, or be able to show appropriate food safety skills and knowledge. If food handlers can show the business and authorised officers that they understand and apply safe food handling practices, a training course may not be required.

If a person is new to the food industry, or to the types of food handling taking place at the business, they should complete a food safety training course to make sure they have appropriate skills and knowledge before handling high-risk foods.

Staff in the business who don’t handle unpackaged potentially hazardous foods, such as people working at the checkout or loading dock at a supermarket, or bar staff who only serve drinks, are not required to complete a food safety training course. However, under the existing requirements of Standard 3.2.2, staff must still have food safety skills and knowledge in line with the work they do, so completion of a food safety training course is recommended.

Who is considered a food handler?

A food handler is a person who directly engages in the handling of food, or who handles surfaces likely to come into contact with food, for a food business. Therefore, anyone who is working or volunteering in a food business, even at ad hoc times, is considered a food handler. Businesses need to ensure all food handlers have adequate skills and knowledge in food safety and hygiene in line with the work that they do.

Do volunteer food handlers need to complete a food safety training course?

Volunteer food handlers also need to complete a food safety training course OR be able to show appropriate food safety skills and knowledge if they handle unpackaged potentially hazardous foods. Where it is not practicable for a food handler to complete food safety training because they volunteer once or infrequently, then they should:

  • be briefed on the safe food handling practices relevant to their food handling activities prior to handling food; or
  • only handle food that is not potentially hazardous, or
  • perform non-food handling activities such as cleaning or taking orders or payment.

Where can staff access, or how can businesses provide food safety training courses?

The following food safety training courses covers the required course content and is available in multiple languages:

Once the course is completed, food handlers will receive a certificate that they can show to business owners and authorised officers.

Training can also be developed and delivered by the food business, or training from another food business where an employee worked previously may be acceptable. Training can be delivered in-house, externally, online and/or in person. 

How often is food safety training required?

There is no set timeframe for food safety training refreshers, but businesses need to make sure their food handlers have up-to-date food safety skills and knowledge.

It is recommended that businesses schedule regular food safety training refreshers for their staff and update staff when there is a change in processes, foods, equipment or chemicals.

Do businesses need to keep a record of staff training?

Most businesses are not required to keep a record of staff training, however, it is recommended that businesses keep staff training records to easily demonstrate to authorised officers they have met the requirements of the food handler training.

If your business already has a food safety program under Standard 3.3.1, then nothing will change, and you will need to continue to keep staff training records.

Food safety supervision

What certification does a Food Safety Supervisor need?

To be eligible to be a Food Safety Supervisor (FSS), food handlers must have completed at least one of the following skill sets within the last five years:

These units can be delivered as stand-alone short courses or within longer Vocational Education & Training (VET) courses.

Food Safety Supervisor certification can only be gained from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

I’ve completed a VET course in hospitality, cooking or retail, can I be a FSS?

Some VET courses contain the FSS skill sets/units meaning if a food handler has completed a VET course in the food, hospitality, retail or community and health care sector they may have already completed the FSS units.

If someone has completed a VET course and are unsure whether they have completed the FSS units, they can check their study transcript or with their training provider.

Current courses containing the two Food Safety Supervision Skill Set units include:

  • Certificate III in Asian Cookery
  • Certificate IV in Asian Cookery
  • Certificate III in Catering
  • Certificate IV in Catering Management
  • Certificate II in Cookery
  • Certificate III in Commercial Cookery
  • Certificate IV in Kitchen Management
  • Certificate II in Hospitality
  • Certificate III in Hospitality
  • Certificate IV in Hospitality
  • Diploma of Hospitality Management
  • Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management
  • Certificate III in Patisserie
  • Certificate IV in Patisserie

Current courses containing the Handle food safely in a retail environment unit include:

  • Certificate IV in Artisan Fermented Products
  • Certificate III in Retail
  • Certificate IV in Food Science and Technology
  • Certificate II in Retail Services

The Certificate III in Health Services Assistance course contains the three units for the Food safety supervision skill set - for community services and health industries.

Where can I access FSS courses?

The WA Health website contains a list of WA-based Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that delivers the FSS training course and other RTOs that offer in-person training in WA.

A complete list of RTOs that offer the FSS skill sets/units across Australia is available on the (external site) by searching the course unit names or codes.

My FSS course includes a practical observation, who can witness this for me?

The FSS course includes a practical observation component that needs to be witnessed by someone else. This is a requirement of the RTO as it is a vocational training course and will need to be completed before a certificate is issued. Your RTO should be able to provide advice on the practical observation component for your FSS course. This is usually someone who is not a friend or family, for example another food handler that you work with. 

If you attend in-person training, the RTO may undertake this assessment whilst you are at the training centre. Check with your RTO to confirm.

If I have a degree in food science or I am a fully qualified chef with many years’ experience, do I still need to gain a FSS certificate?

Yes, the Standard requires the food handler to have gained certification as Food Safety Supervisor through a Registered Training Organisation within the last five years.

Does the FSS certificate expire?

Yes. Under the Standard FSS certification must be completed at least every five years. Some RTOs may offer re-certification, otherwise the person will need to complete FSS certification course again.

Can superseded units still be used for FSS certification?

Course unit names and requirements can be updated from time to time. If superseded units were completed within the last 5 years, they will still be recognised, and the person can be a FSS.

If the superseded units were completed more than 5 years ago, the new units, or re-certification under the new units, will need to be completed.

Is my FSS certification tied to the food business that paid for my training?

No. The certification issued by the RTO is specifically to you as an individual.

Will presentation of an academic transcript or similar showing completion of the relevant units suffice as evidence?

Yes, an academic transcript will suffice as evidence of having completed the required units of competency.

If I’m a sole operator, do I still need to appoint a FSS?

Under clause 11 of Standard 3.2.2A the business must appoint a Food Safety Supervisor before engaging in a prescribed activity and ensure that the Food Safety Supervisor is reasonably available to advise and supervise each food handler engaged in that prescribed activity.

While a sole operator would not need to supervise any other food handlers, if they are undertaking prescribed activities they still need to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor. This aims to make sure the business or sole operator has the skills and knowledge to handle food safely.

If a FSS goes on a period of leave (e.g. annual, personal and long service leave) will another supervisor need to be appointed?

If a Food Safety Supervisor is absent for 30 days or less, you don’t need to appoint a replacement Food Safety Supervisor, but you should ensure that appropriate processes & procedures are in place (e.g. having a written guide for staff to use).

Where a Food Safety Supervisor is absent for more than 30 days a replacement food safety supervisor needs to be appointed.

Does the FSS need to be on site for all opening hours? Can they be contacted by phone or email instead?

The FSS needs to be reasonably available when the handling of unpackaged potentially hazardous foods (prescribed activities) is taking place. This means being onsite for majority of the time to oversee the prescribed activities, and when not onsite being otherwise contactable and having procedures in place.

Does the FSS need to be onsite when food is being prepared or can they be contacted by phone/email for advice?

The FSS needs to be reasonably available (mostly onsite) when prescribed activities are taking place, and at other times must be contactable via phone or email.

If a food business has multiple premises/sites, does each premises require a FSS?

If the FSS cannot effectively provide supervision across multiple premises/sites, each premises should appoint a FSS. Factors that need to be taken into consideration are:

  • Number of food handlers and volume of food handled.
  • Distance between premises/sites.
  • Food safety risks associated with the food handling processes.
  • Operation hours.

How may an environmental health officer assess compliance with the requirement for a FSS to be reasonably available?

If your FSS is not on the premises during an environmental health officer's food safety inspection, they may check if your FSS is reasonably available by:

  • Inquiring about the FSS's usual schedule and presence at the premises, as well as the duration of their absence.
  • Requesting that you contact your FSS via phone and making a follow-up phone call if there is no response.
  • Gathering information about any established procedures or management practices in place when the FSS is not on-site.

Is a FSS still required if an organisation sells food infrequently (maximum of one or two days a week)?

Yes. The organisation must still appoint at least one FSS, but flexibility around the availability of the FSS can be applied. In such situations, the FSS:

  • Must be suitably qualified (obtained FSS certification within the last 5 years from a registered training organisation).
  • Does not necessarily need to be onsite for most of the time when prescribed activities are taking place, but must be contactable.
  • Must oversee food handling operations for the organisation and ensure all volunteer food handlers have adequate skills and knowledge.
  • Must ensure adequate food handling procedures are in place and should be involved in food handling in some capacity.
Managing prescribed provisions

What are prescribed provisions and what do I need to substantiate?

The prescribed provisions are key food safety requirements that businesses must control to make sure the food they sell is safe. For potentially hazardous foods, category one businesses must show that they:

  • Receive, store, display and transport (if applicable) potentially hazardous foods under temperature control.
  • Process (e.g. cook, acidify, ferment) potentially hazardous foods adequately.
  • Minimise the time potentially hazardous foods is out of temperature control during processing.
  • Cool potentially hazardous foods within the specified time and temperature limits.
  • Reheat potentially hazardous foods rapidly to the required temperature.
  • Clean and sanitise food surfaces and equipment adequately.

How can I demonstrate that I am doing these things?

A business can demonstrate they are meeting the prescribed provisions a number of ways including:

  • writing on templates
  • recording electronically
  • writing invoices
  • keeping photos or videos
  • having written instruction sheets or procedures
  • walking and talking through the process with the food regulator.

If your business already has a food safety program under Standard 3.3.1, then nothing will change as you will already be keeping records to demonstrate compliance and must continue to do so.

Where can I access record keeping templates?

Record keeping templates are available from various sources including Food Standards Australia New Zealand template examples (DOCX 93KB). Businesses can develop their own or adapt and amend existing templates to suit their needs.

How long do records need to be kept?

3 months.

Do businesses such as hospitals, childcare centres and aged care facilities who are audited under Standard 3.3.1 only need to keep records for 3 months now?

No, businesses who are required to implement a food safety program under Standard 3.3.1 must continue to keep their records as they usually do.
Last reviewed: 29-01-2024
Produced by

Environmental Health Directorate

For detailed information on the standards, refer to the Guide for food businesses on Food Safety Standards 3.2.2A.

Translation of the guide into other languages are available on the Food safety management tools for food businesses webpage.