Children's services that provide food as part of their service need to meet requirements in the Food Standards Code and Food Act 2003 (NSW).
Businesses and facilities include long day care, family day care, out of school hours care, occasional day care and employer sponsored childcare.
In NSW, children’s services are exempt from Standard 3.3.1 – Food Safety Programs for Food Service to Vulnerable Persons.
Children's services that provide meals as part of their operation now have until 8 December 2024 to comply with new food safety requirements, introduced under Standard 3.2.2A of the Food Standards Code.
The requirements are outlined in each of the sections below, as well as in our PDF guideline:
- Food safety requirements for children’s services in NSW (PDF, 544 KB)
Standard 3.2.2A requirements do not apply to:
- services handling food supplied by parents or handling only packaged food
- services where food handling is part of an educational program and not a commercial offering
- services where the only potentially hazardous food served is milk
- the handling of food to raise funds solely for community or charitable causes
- providing food for free.
The requirements do apply to children's services supplying unpackaged food that is potentially hazardous and ready-to-eat as part of their service offering.
The NSW Food Authority does not require NSW children's services to be licensed with us but you will still need to:
- Notify your business and food activity details to your local council prior to starting operation. You may need to apply for a service, permit or approval, or complete a notification form. Contact your local council.
- Meet the food safety requirements under the Food Standards Code.
- Be regularly inspected by your local council.
Food Safety Supervisor
From 8 December 2024, children’s services will be required to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) if the food they prepare and serve is:
- potentially hazardous (needs temperature control), and
- not served in the supplier's original package.
An FSS is someone associated with the business who is certified to have skills and knowledge in food safety. Training is delivered by approved Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).
There are 2 learning pathways in NSW to achieve FSS certification – hospitality and retail. Children’s services staff can qualify to be an FSS through either pathway. In NSW the course must include either:
Two hospitality units:
- SITXFSA005 – Use hygiene practices for food safety
- SITXFSA006 – Participate in safe food handling practices
- One retail unit: SIRRFSA001 – Handle food safely in a retail environment.
Please see Food Safety Supervisors for information, including how to obtain a certificate.
Food handler skills
Children’s services that supply and serve unpackaged, potentially hazardous, ready-to-eat food, must ensure their food handlers have appropriate skills and knowledge in food safety and hygiene under Standard 3.2.2A of the Code. This applies from 8 December 2024 and is different to the Food Safety Supervisor requirement.
Services can choose how food handlers are trained. They may use or recognise free online food safety training programs, past experience, internal training tailored to suit their own procedures, or courses from vocational training providers.
Additional training is not needed if food handlers can already demonstrate adequate skills and knowledge for their duties.
- See Food Handler Basics training for more information, including to access the NSW Food Authority’s free training course.
Showing food is safe
From 8 December 2024, children’s services that undertake higher risk food handling need to be able to demonstrate safe food practices under Standard 3.2.2A of the Code. This requirement ensures services are actively monitoring and managing key risks related to food temperature control, food processing, and cleaning and sanitising, which are critical for food safety.
It applies to services that process potentially hazardous food into a food that is ready-to-eat and potentially hazardous, and serve it to consumers. “Process” is defined as chopping, cooking, drying, fermenting, heating, thawing and/or washing.
Specific risks must be controlled related to:
- food receipt
- pathogen reduction (cooking)
- minimising time during food processing
- cooling food
- reheating food
- cleaning and sanitising.
Services can meet this requirement by:
- demonstrating safe food practices, and/or
- keeping records.
For more information, including templates for recording keeping, see Showing food is safe.
Premises construction and facilities
Construction and layout of food handling areas must be designed to minimise food contamination.
Operators must ensure:
- the food premises, fixtures, fittings, and equipment are designed and constructed so they can be easily cleaned and, where necessary, sanitised
- adequate hand washing facilities are available - check with your local council on what is considered adequate
- food is kept protected from pests and vermin at all stages, including storage of ingredients
- the premises is designed to exclude pests where practical
- adequate refrigeration capacity - overloading domestic refrigerators and constantly opening the door means food takes longer to cool and harmful microorganisms have more chance to grow.
Requirements are set out in the Food Standards Code, Chapter 3, Standard 3.2.3 - Food Premises and Equipment.
Hygiene and handling
Operators must ensure there are adequate facilities for food handlers to wash their hands. Hand wash facilities must be only used for washing hands, arms and face and should include warm running water, soap (or soap alternative) and single-use hand towel.
Food handlers need to take all reasonable measures not to handle food or surfaces likely to come into contact with food in a way that is likely to compromise the safety and suitability of food.
Food handlers must ensure all food contact surfaces are kept clean and sanitised and adequately protected from contamination.
If a food handler believes they could have or be a carrier of a foodborne illness they must advise their supervisor immediately and ensure they do not handle food, which they could contaminate as a result.
For more see our fact sheet Health & hygiene for food handlers (PDF, 202 KB)
Full requirements are set out in Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2, Division 4 - Health and Hygiene. See also the Safe Food Australia guide to the Food Safety Standards.
Cleaning and sanitisation
All fixtures, fittings and equipment must be adequate for the production of safe and suitable food, and fit for their intended use.
Cleaning chemicals must be suitable for contact with food and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
For more see our factsheet:
- Cleaning and sanitising in food businesses (PDF, 406 KB)
Factsheets and posters
Food safety tips:
- Fresh cut fruit and vegetables (pdf 722KB)
- Cooking with kids (pdf 1.2MB)
- Food brought from home (pdf 565KB)
- Taking food on excursions (pdf 772KB)
- Keep food separate (pdf 1.9MB)
Food service information:
Food Safety Program template
Operators of children’s services wanting to implement best practice processes and procedures may opt to use our Food Safety Program template. It is tailored for services that prepare potentially hazardous food for children 4 years of age and under.
Use of the template is voluntary – it is designed as a practical guide on food safety and record keeping in long day care, occasional care and employee sponsored day care settings.
Inspections and audits
Children's service providers will be routinely inspected by the local council to check their compliance with the above standards.
Centres may be charged:
- an annual administration charge
- inspection fees
- fees for issuing improvement notices
- fees for conducting follow up inspections.
Legislation and standards
You will also need to meet the requirements set out in:
- Food Act 2003 (NSW)
- Food Regulation 2015
- Food Standards Code including: