Apply for an accreditation
Before you apply
What happens next?
Fees + charges
Apply for an accreditation
Before you apply
If you are looking to operate a food business, you must first ensure that the premises you wish to operate from are suitable.
The first step should be to contact your local council to determine if the type of business you plan to operate can be undertaken at your intended site. Then, check with council if they have any licencing requirements for the type of activities you are proposing. You may require a licence from Council in addition to an accreditation from Safe Food. For example, a dairy processor with an onsite café would require a licence from local council for the café.
You must provide written confirmation from your local council that you are permitted to undertake your proposed activities at the site from which you intend to operate. This can sometimes take a few days or weeks, so we recommend contacting your local council early, before submitting your application to Safe Food, to avoid any unnecessary delays.
What happens next?
Once we receive your application, we will contact you for payment (if paying by credit card). Payment of fees must be received before your application can be assessed. After payment is received, we will review your application and contact you if we require any further information.
We aim to assess each application within 14 days, although applications submitted in their entirety are likely to be processed faster.
You will be notified in writing about the outcome of your application (approved or refused).
Under the Food Production (Safety) Act 2000, it is unlawful to engage in certain activities relating to primary production or processing of food until you have been granted an accreditation by Safe Food. As such, you should allow adequate time for your application to be reviewed before you begin operating.
Your accreditation responsibilities
A Safe Food accreditation is valid from 1 January – 31 December each year.* You will therefore need to renew your accreditation each year and pay the prescribed annual accreditation fee if you wish to continue operating. This is something that you should budget for as part of your ongoing business costs.
As an accredited business, you will be subject to an audit or assessment from Safe Food each year, unless alternative arrangements are in place (e.g. you have a Preferred Supplier Arrangement). Audits and assessments are calculated on an hourly rate and charged in 15 minute increments, plus GST. For more information, please refer to our fees & charges.
*fees are not pro-rata.
Fees + charges
Food Safety Programs + Management Statements
A FSP or MS is a document prepared by a business outlining what control measures and procedures have been implemented to reduce or eliminate significant food safety hazards (e.g. biological, physical, chemical) associated with its product(s). A FSP or MS provides a means to demonstrate compliance with a Food Safety Scheme.
Throughout the year you will have to make sure that your FSP or MS remains current and up to date. Any major changes to your business might require approval from Safe Food, such as a change to your:
• Processes (e.g. undertaking additional processing activities)
• Equipment (e.g. operating new equipment)
• Activities (e.g. receiving product from a new supplier)
• Critical control points (e.g. cleaning process)
What is the difference between a FSP and MS?
A food safety program is a documented approach to the processes and procedures by which a business will maintain their standards and operations to ensure that a safe and suitable product is produced and that any possible food safety risks are minimised or eliminated.
- This is a detailed document that covers all aspects of a business, from inputs, product descriptions and temperatures, right through to cleaning, maintenance and pest control.
- It involves a risk assessment to identify where any possible issues may arise, how to recognise these issues, what the acceptable limits are around each step, and what to do to rectify the situation should it occur.
- This type of detailed documentation is required for activities that carry what is considered to be a “higher” risk rating, such as cooking, cooling or drying of meat products, pasteurisation of dairy products, or any processing activities, etc.
Management Statement (MS)
A management statement is a more concise way of documenting how a business intends to operate and what activities they intend to undertake and should be written by the applicant in their own words.
- This is a document suitable for activities that carry a “lower” potential risk.
- Lower risk activities include the production of raw products under the meat scheme, live and whole products in seafood, transportation, temperature controlled storage, wild animal harvesting, etc.
- A way to address the required details without the more complicated risk assessment and supporting programs that are required for higher risk activities (like cooked and cooled products, etc.).
Both a FSP and a MS should include how and when monitoring will occur, evaluation of performance and traceability information.
Do I need to develop a FSP or MS?
If you are conducting activities for which an accreditation with Safe Food is required, then you will need to submit either a FSP or a MS as part of your application process.
Dependant on what activity you are applying for, and what possible risks are involved, will determine if it is a FSP or a MS that you will need to submit.
If you are unsure whether you need to develop a FSP or MS please contact us.
How do I develop a FSP or MS?
A FSP can be developed either by the applicant or with the assistance of a food safety program consultant. The applicant is able to attempt to address the requirements on their own and submit their FSP for review as part of their application, or, alternatively, search for a consultant who will be able to assist if unsure of how the meet the requirements.
Creating a FSP may involve such things as hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and supporting programs.
A MS should be written by the applicant as a brief overview of their intended operations and should be in their own words. It should advise what they intend to do and how they intend to do it with a view to satisfying the requirements to ensure they are producing or transporting products that are safe and suitable for their intended purpose.
Amending Your Program
Changes that may warrant a program amendment include:
• making changes to your current primary production or processing activities
• altering existing food safety control measures or key intervention steps
• changing existing equipment or adding new equipment
• extending/expanding your premise
• producing new food product categories, or
• making major changes to your approved supplier or distribution system.
These types of activities may introduce new food safety hazards and/or require additional food safety controls that could impact existing critical control points (CCP) within your system, and therefore require approval.
Note: A change in your business activities may also require approval from local government (council) or (if you export), the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
What if my approved activities change?
If you currently hold a low-risk accreditation and your proposed new activities are considered ‘medium or high-risk’ then this will change your risk rating, and you will need to submit a food safety program (FSP) to Safe Food for approval. A FSP would replace your approved management statement. If you already have a FSP, you must submit an updated version for approval.
You will also need to meet other requirements from Safe Food, such as microbiological testing, data logger records and the use of protein swabs as a method of verification of cleaning. Safe Food will contact you upon receipt of your food safety program to discuss these requirements.
Note: Upgrading from low to medium or high-risk within the same accreditation category (e.g. Producer) will not change your annual accreditation fee. However, there will be a fee associated with assessing the amendment.
If you already hold a high-risk accreditation but want to amend the type of products that you produce, add new equipment, extend your premise, or make major changes to your approved supplier or distribution system then you must submit an updated FSP outlining these new activities.
You may also need to supply other information to Safe Food, such as data logging records and microbiological test results. Safe Food will contact you upon receipt of your updated FSP to discuss these requirements.
Note: Depending on the nature and scale of the proposed changes, there may be a fee associated with assessing the amendment.
What is my current risk rating?
If you are unsure what your current risk rating is, you can search our Accreditation Register to find out. Search by your accreditation number, business name, or rego (if applicable).
Contact Safe Food on 1800 300 815 or email [email protected]
How long will it take to review my program amendment?
It depends on the nature of your proposed changes and how quickly you supply the information we require. If you are building or refurbishing your facility, this will need to be completed first before an assessment can be made. If your program amendment is missing information and requires Safe Food to follow up, this will delay our assessment. Once you have submitted the necessary information in full, Safe Food will aim to review your program amendment within 14 days. You will be informed in writing about the outcome (approved or refused).
How do I submit a program amendment?
Email [email protected]
Fees + charges
Fees are based on the activities you are carrying out.
View the fees in the Application form.
Please note: The fees that appear in the application form will be the application fee and accreditation fee combined.
The application fee is a one-time fee that is non-refundable.
GST does not apply to application or accreditation fees. The accreditation fee is not calculated on a pro rata basis.
As part of your application for accreditation, a compliance audit will also be conducted against the food safety program or management statement you submit with your application. This audit will be done in the form of a site visit, or desktop audit from Safe Food’s head office, and will be charged in 15-minute increments. Safe Food will advise what type of compliance audit your business will require.
The 2023 fee for service rate (audit fee) is $329.38 per hour (plus GST).
A compliance audit or assessment is required during each accreditation period (calendar year). If you choose to renew your accreditation for the following year, your compliance audit or assessment will be done on site.
Please note: Audit fees are an additional charge to the application and accreditation fees. You will receive an audit report and invoice once the audit has been completed.
Accreditation fees explained
What to expect during an audit or assessment
Service Level Agreements
The 2023 fee for service rate for Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are $329.38 per hour (plus GST). The overall cost of an SLA is dependent on the scope and associated timeframe to complete of the services you request.
Please note in some instances the travel time for Safe Food officers is also chargeable at the fee for service rate. This can include charges for flights, accommodation and travel (car hire).
Renew my accreditation
All accreditations remain valid until 31 December in the year for which they are issued. You therefore need to renew your accreditation and pay the prescribed fee before 1 January in the following calendar year in order to continue to operate.
In early November, all accreditation holders will receive a renewal advice notice by their preferred method of contact. If you haven’t received your renewal advice before November 30, please contact us.
Frequently asked questions
- How do I update my contact details?
What are the benefits to holding an accreditation?
Aside from being a legal obligation, there are many other benefits to holding an accreditation with Safe Food. For instance, an accreditation provides independent verification that the systems and processes you have in place are suitable for producing safe food. This is important for reassuring your customers and growing your business. More benefits are outlined in the following video:
Can I use the Safe Food logo?
Safe Food’s logo may not be used, copied, displayed or recreated in any manner by an individual, organisation or entity other than Safe Food. This includes:
• being displayed in any manner that implies sponsorship, endorsement or license by Safe Food. For example, on packaging, product labels, trucks, websites or social media pages;
• used as a feature or design element of any other logo.
We encourage accreditation holders to consider the following alternatives to promote their accreditation with Safe Food:
• display your accreditation certificate or sticker in a prominent location within your business, such as the front entrance;
• print your Safe Food accreditation number on packaging and other promotional items;
• print your Safe Food QR code (found on your certificate) on packaging and promotional items. This QR code links to your listing on our Accreditation Register, to verify that you have a valid accreditation with Safe Food;
• link to Safe Food’s website via your own website;
• promote the results of your compliance audits or assessments conducted by Safe Food (e.g. on your website or social media pages).
Why do I need to pay an application fee?
An application fee of $175.89 (2023) applies to all new accreditation applications. This amount covers the costs associated with processing new applications and includes matters such as creating a new accreditation record and processing and assessing the application.
Are application and accreditation fees subject to GST?
No, GST does not apply to application or accreditation fees. This is because the fees are statutory (or prescribed) fees and not goods or services for the purpose of GST.
Can I pay a pro-rata amount for my accreditation fees?
Accreditation fees cannot be calculated on a pro-rata basis and pro-rata refunds are not available following the surrender or cancellation of an accreditation. Please refer to the question above regarding refunds.
Can fees be refunded to me, for example if I decide I don’t want an accreditation due to changed circumstances?
No, neither application fees, nor accreditation fees are able to be refunded once an accreditation has been issued by Safe Food.
This is because, whilst applicants need to pay the prescribed fees in order to have an accreditation issued, Safe Food does not have any legal provision to refund all or part of a fee once an accreditation has been issued.
Prescribed fees are those outlined under the legislation and Safe Food is therefore unable to agree to requests for refunds of prescribed fees.
How long does an accreditation last for?
All accreditations remain valid until 31 December in the year for which they are issued or renewed. Therefore, all accreditation holders need to renew their accreditation and pay (in full) the prescribed fee before 1 January in the following calendar year in order to continue to operate.
Are all categories of accreditation applicable under all food safety schemes?
No, not all categories of accreditation are applicable under all food safety schemes. Some activities conducted under a particular food safety scheme may not be relevant to other food safety schemes. Further, there are some activities that may require a specific accreditation under one particular food safety scheme, but this may not be the case under another scheme.
How are applications for accreditation assessed?
Applications for accreditation are assessed in accordance with the activities that the applicant tells us they are intending to undertake. All applications are assessed based upon a comparison of the proposed activities against matters such as the relevant food safety scheme/s and any applicable standards that may apply to the type of business that the applicant intends to operate.
Why can’t I apply for an accreditation in more than one name, or in the name of a ‘partnership’ or business name?
Safe Food is only able to issue an accreditation in the name of an individual (a natural person) or a corporation with a valid ACN (e.g. a company). This is a matter that is governed by legal requirements in relation to what constitutes a ‘legal entity’ for the purpose of holding an accreditation.
What is a temporary accreditation?
A temporary accreditation is issued to new applicants deemed to be undertaking activities that are medium-risk or high-risk. A temporary accreditation is issued for a period of up to two months, prior to being considered for an open accreditation.
Under a temporary accreditation, medium or high-risk businesses are required to have their food production system approved by Safe Food before they can supply food products that pose a higher risk to consumers. High risk foods include things like ready-to-eat meats, oysters, dairy products and more (note: these are just examples and not an exhaustive list).
Your level of risk is determined based on what is documented in your Management Statement or Food Safety Program, and compared against the Food Production (Safety) Regulation 2014.
To facilitate the approval process, medium and high-risk food businesses are required to provide additional technical information to demonstrate their nominated food safety controls are effective in maintaining compliance with the requirements of the relevant food safety scheme or standard.
For more information about temporary accreditations, please refer to this article.
What is a Service Level Agreement?
A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between Safe Food and a client or accreditation holder that documents any services Safe Food will provide, at the request of the client.
Safe Food offers SLAs to clients who require assistance in meeting legislative requirements. The assistance offered under an SLA generally falls outside of the scope of services that Safe Food would normally perform under our core regulatory activities.
For instance, Safe Food has conducted SLAs for businesses who requested assistance with
- Site inspections of existing facilities prior to signing a lease or purchasing to ensure the premise complies with relevant legislation
- Reviewing site plans for new builds or facility upgrades to ensure the premise will comply with relevant legislation once built
- Addressing production issues in operating facilities
- Overseeing a validation trial for a new product or process
All SLAs include a formal written report prepared by Safe Food to confirm any findings of a review or inspection and provide advice on additional requirements or alternations that may be required.
How to request a Service Level Agreement
If you wish to request a SLA with Safe Food, please contact us on (07) 3253 9800 to discuss your situation. Alternatively, please email us at [email protected] detailing the activities you are intending on undertaking (e.g. meat processing), the location of your facility and the services you require.
Safe Food will contact you to discuss your request further and provide you with further information if you decide to proceed.
- Where can I get further information in relation to these matters?