These are all questions that anyone running a restaurant or working in the hospitality industry in Australia needs to be able to answer. In order to keep your customers happy and healthy, it’s essential to know all the official food safety standards for the responsible service, storage and handling of food.
In Australia, all food safety standards are listed under the Food Standards Code, and this code is managed by a government regulation body called Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
The Food Standards Code consists of five key chapters that are codified in law, so you must follow these standards in order to operate any hospitality business where food and beverage are served, or you could face penalties.
The five different chapters of the Food Standards Code are:
- 3.1.1 Interpretation and Application (of the act)
- 3.2.1 Food Safety Programs
- 3.2.2 Food Safety Practices and General Requirements
- 3.2.3 Food Premises and Equipment
- 3.3.1 Food Safety Programs for Food Service to Vulnerable Persons
Many of your questions regarding storage, preparation and service of food relevant to restaurants or food service businesses can be answered by looking at chapter 3.2.2, Food Safety Practices and General Requirements.
The complete Food Standards Code for Australia is accessible with all its five chapters at the links above and on the official website.
These codes cover a lot of territory, including rules for labelling of food products and industrial production as well as regulations specifically for the food service industry. Food Standards Australia New Zealand have condensed some of this information down to accessible info bites available here.
Food safety storage and handling
To answer some common questions about food handling and storage, here are a few key examples of safety standards from the info bites list for restaurateurs.
Can you use food that has been sitting outside of the fridge for some time?
Yes, but you must follow the 2 hour / 4 hour rule. This standard tells you how long a food item can be stored between 5 and 60 degrees before it becomes unsafe.
Are pets allowed in your cafe or restaurant?
Yes, outside. According to Standard 3.2.2 (Food Safety Practices and General Requirements) pets can be allowed in outdoor dining areas whereas assistance animals must be permitted in both outdoor and indoor dining areas. However, no animal is allowed anywhere that food is prepared.
What are the food safety standards for cleaning and sanitising for restaurants or hospitality businesses?
There are many strict standards governing the proper cleaning and sanitising of food preparation equipment, utensils, kitchens and service areas, under Food Safety Standard 3.2.2. For example, the law distinguishes between cleaning and sanitisation and provides different rules for each. You can read about all of those rules in detail, right here.
Can you cool and then reheat meat or other dishes?
Yes, but you must cool a dish within a specific, fast time frame of 6 hours total (2 hours cooling from 60 to 21 degrees Celsius, then 4 hours cooling from 21 to 5 degrees Celsius) as per the correct regulation, and it must be reheated to over 60 degrees Celsius.
What are the standards for the safe storage of food in Australian restaurants?
The Food Standards Code regulates every aspect of how food should be safely stored in a restaurant or hospitality business. For example:
- Hazardous food must be stored below 5 degrees Celsius,
- Raw and ready to eat food must be kept separate from each other,
- And frozen food must stay hard.
These are just three examples, you can see a full detailed list of all safe food storage standards here.
There is plenty more to learn about Australian food safety standards.
If you are running a food business or you’re thinking of starting a food business in Australia, you must have a thorough read of the whole Food Standards Code to make sure you’re complying with food safety regulations.
Also, don’t forget to register your business.
If you’re changing ownership or starting a new food business in Australia, whether it’s a restaurant, catering company, home-based business or an unusual food business, such as a kiosk or delivery service, you’re required by law to register your business with the food regulation enforcement agency in your state. You can find out more information about that right here.
Do you have the right education and training to start a hospitality business or restaurant?
One of the biggest reasons why 60% of new restaurants and cafes fail within the first year of opening is because the business owner lacks industry knowledge, training and experience.
If you are considering entering into the hospitality industry or starting a restaurant, you need to make sure you are adequately trained in all aspects of setting up and running a hospitality business. The best way to do that is by studying a course in hospitality management.