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Food Safety Supervisors (FSS)

Food Safety Supervisors (FSS) oversee day-to-day food handling operations and ensure risks are managed.

The NSW FSS program helps businesses meet their obligations under the Food Standards Code, NSW Food Act and Food Regulation.

The role of an FSS is to minimise the risk of customers becoming ill from food poisoning because of incorrect handling and preparation of food.  

Statistics show that incorrect food handling practices in retail and hospitality food businesses account for up to 50 per cent of foodborne illness outbreaks in NSW, costing the community hundreds of millions of dollars each year in healthcare and lost revenue.

Appointing an FSS gives food businesses a better level of onsite protection for food safety and gives consumers peace-of-mind when dining out, taking away or buying food in NSW.

 

Businesses that require an FSS

All retail, hospitality and food service businesses need to appoint at least one Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) per premises if food they prepare and serve is:

  • ready-to-eat
  • potentially hazardous, that is, needs temperature control
  • NOT sold and served in the supplier's original package.

Broadly, this includes all businesses selling potentially hazardous food to the public that are not licensed by the Food Authority, such as: cafes, restaurants, quick service venues, takeaway shops, pubs and clubs with food service areas, mobile vendors, home-based businesses, caterers, motels, and supermarkets selling potentially hazardous food (such as hot-chickens). It also includes outlets that sell food through third party ordering apps.

From 8 December 2024 the FSS requirement will also apply to:

  • school canteens
  • children’s services that provide meals, including out of school hours care
  • supermarkets
  • delicatessens
  • greengrocers
  • coffee vendors that sell unpackaged, potentially hazardous, ready-to-eat food
  • boarding schools
  • correctional centres.

Businesses licensed with the Food Authority do not need an FSS.

See also:

Who can be an FSS?

The FSS is nominated by the owner of a food business and may be the business owner, manager, or employee (for example, the chef) provided they:

  • are not an FSS for any other food premises or mobile catering business, and  
  • can train and supervise other people in the business to ensure safe food handling occurs (as per the Food Act 2003 –Section 106B(1c)).
  • are reasonably available and be easily contacted (such as by phone).

For a small business, it may be most appropriate for the business owner to be the FSS.

Larger businesses that operate longer hours may choose to nominate several people to be trained and appointed as an FSS to help cover shift work and annual leave.

Exempt businesses

The following are exempt from the FSS requirement in NSW:

 

  1. The handling or sale of food for the purpose of raising funds solely for community or charitable causes, and providing food free to the community.
  2. Businesses licensed with the NSW Food Authority.
  3. Businesses that only manufacture or wholesale food (such as a manufacturer of bulk ham that is sold packaged to supermarkets) with no direct sale to consumers (other food safety arrangements will apply to these businesses).
  4. Food businesses that are not serving or retailing unpackaged food that is potentially hazardous and ready to eat (such as service stations selling food that remains in its original sealed packaging, a coffee van that only sells food that is not potentially hazardous).

Food businesses that are licensed by the NSW Food Authority will continue to be exempt from the Food Safety Supervisor requirement.

 

How to become an FSS

To be an FSS you must achieve the required unit/s of competency and key focus areas from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that has been approved to deliver the NSW FSS program.

There are 2 pathways to choose from to achieve FSS certification, depending on the businesses type:

  • hospitality – businesses that provide food as a service, where food is typically prepared and eaten onsite, for example restaurants and cafes
  • retail – provides food as a product and may be eaten elsewhere, for example takeaways, and supermarkets.

FSS training can generally be completed in one full day (for example, through face-to-face training and assessment). However, the duration of the course will depend on the type of delivery option offered by approved RTOs, which can include:  

  • face-to-face
  • online  
  • workplace based
  • correspondence
  • a combination of the above.

Training course costs are set by individual RTOs.

The training does not provide all the skills required for supervising food handling activities in specific licensed industries, such as aged care or manufacturing.

The Food Act 2003 requires that FSS certificates are renewed every 5 years. 

Units of competency

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) regularly reviews and updates accredited units of competency to ensure they are fit-for-purpose and delivering appropriate training.

The current national units of competency accepted for the NSW FSS certificate approved by ASQA are:

  • Two hospitality units:
    • SITXFSA005 – Use hygiene practices for food safety
    • SITXFSA006 – Participate in safe food handling practices

OR

  • One retail unit: SIRRFSA001 – Handle food safely in a retail environment.

Previous units of competency remain valid up to the expiry date on the FSS certificate.

Key focus areas

The units of competency must incorporate mandatory key focus areas as determined by the NSW Food Authority.

The key focus areas were developed in response to common high risk food safety issues in the retail and hospitality sectors and include:

  • Allergen Management
  • Cleaning and Sanitising Practices
  • Safe Egg Handling
  • Food Act Offences

FSS Certificates

The NSW Food Safety Supervisor certificate provides evidence an individual has successfully completed the nationally accredited units of competency and NSW-specific key focus areas. RTOs must issue FSS certificates within 10 working days of successfully completing the course.

The Food Act 2003 requires that FSS certificates are renewed every 5 years. It is also a legal requirement that businesses keep a copy of the FSS certificate on the premises – display is recommended.

While the FSS certificate is designed to provide skills and knowledge for supervising food handling activities in retail and hospitality businesses, the FSS must also be able to demonstrate their skills and knowledge.

Replacement certificates

Certificates can be replaced or reissued if the certificate holder changes their name, or if the certificate has been lost or damaged.

Certificate holders who need to replace a current FSS certificate should in the first instance approach the RTO that issued it. The RTO can advise what documentation must be submitted before a certificate is reissued.

RTOs may charge a fee for the reissue of an NSW FSS certificate. The cost is set by the RTO, not the Food Authority. FSS certificate requests will be processed in 10 working days.

If the RTO that issued the certificate has ceased to operate, or is no longer approved under the NSW FSS program, the holder can apply to the Food Authority for a replacement using the FSS certificate request form (FSS003)

Certificates that have expired cannot be reprinted or otherwise replaced or renewed. A new certificate must be achieved through completing a recertification course or the entire FSS course. 

FSS recertification

FSS certificates expire 5 years from the date of issue. When an FSS holder’s certification expires, a food business has 30 days to ensure:

  • the person with the expired FSS completes a recertification course within 30 working days, or
  • another eligible staff member with a current qualification is appointed as the FSS.

Some RTOs approved by the Food Authority have developed a recertification course. These are only available to people who have already been awarded a NSW FSS certification.

This course provides key updates to certificate holders, including the key focus areas, while recognising existing skills and knowledge. RTOs will determine how to deliver this training.

It may only be offered up to 90 days after the expiry date for a previous NSW FSS certificate. After this time, the entire course must be re-completed to attain certification.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

The NSW Food Authority will assess and issue a NSW FSS certificate to an individual who has attained all of the required units from any RTO in Australia when completed as part of a vocational qualification (for example, Cert IV Commercial Cookery) within 5 years from the date of the request.

Steps to complying with FSS requirements

  1. Determine whether your business needs an FSS - our short quiz can help.
  2. Choose who is to be the FSS for your business.  
  3. FSS obtains the required training through an approved RTO.
  4. FSS receives an FSS certificate. A copy is kept on the business premises.
  5. After 5 years, the FSS completes recertification training.

Download FSS guideline

The Guideline to Food Safety Supervisor Requirements is a simple ‘how to’ guide on complying with FSS legislation:

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