There are safety standards placed on businesses that sell food, drinks and therapeutic goods so that consumers can be confident they are safe to eat, drink and use.
This page includes information on:
- current recalls
- food and beverages labelling
- therapeutic goods
- your consumer rights
- how to make a complaint
Food and beverages
Bacteria can spread in food and make us extremely ill, so it’s important we handle, prepare and store our food appropriately to prevent this from happening.
In Australia, food and drink manufacturers must ensure their products adhere to the national Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code). The NSW Food Authority enforces the Food Standards Code in NSW.
If a food or drink product is found to be unsafe or dangerous to the community, it will be recalled by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. View current recalls on their website.
Here is some information on the requirements in place to keep your food safe.
All food labels must be legible, prominent, in English (a translation sticker is fine) and contain the following information:
- name and/or description of the food
- list of ingredients
- date mark
- nutrition information panel (NIP)
- country of origin of the food
- warning and advisory statements (like allergen notices)
- the ‘lot/batch’ number of the foods, as well as the name and Australian/New Zealand street address of the supplier of food (for food recall).
There are additional requirements for some food.
‘Use by’ and ‘best before’ dates
The Food Standards Code includes requirements for packaged food and beverages. Most pre-packed food in NSW is required to have some form of 'use by' or 'best by' label. These dates provide a guide as to how long food can be kept before it starts to spoil and/or become unsafe to eat.
After the ‘use by date’, foods should not be consumed and can’t legally be sold because they may pose a health risk.
‘Best before’ dates can be found on most foods. You can still eat food after the best before date as they are safe but may have reduced in quality. Retailers can legally sell food past its best before date provided it fit for consumption.
Foods that have a shelf-life of two years or more (eg canned foods), do not need to be labelled with a best before date as they are likely to be consumed well before they spoil.
It is the responsibility of food suppliers to put a use by and/or best before date on food. It is the responsibility of retailers to make sure any food they sell is not contaminated and is fit for consumption.
Contact Food Standards Australia New Zealand for more information on food labelling standards.
Certain additives (eg colouring, preservatives or concentrates) can only be used in specific foods after they have been evaluated and recommended for use in that food. These additives, and their approved usage, are outlined in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (under Standard 1.3.1 – Food Additives).
Contact the Food Standards Australia New Zealand for more information.
Therapeutic goods include things we rely on every day (like vitamins and sunscreen), as well as goods used to treat serious conditions (like prescription medicines, vaccines, blood products and surgical implants).
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for ensuring therapeutic goods available in Australia are safe and fit for their intended purpose.
The TGA is responsible for the regulation of medicines, complementary medicines, medical devices, products to test for various diseases or conditions, vaccines and blood products. They are also regulate the manufacture and advertising of these products.
If a therapeutic product is found to be defective or harmful, the TGA will issue a recall action to protect you. View the recall actions database.
Your consumer rights
As a consumer, you have the right to expect that the goods you buy are safe.
Australian Consumer Law requires safety standards to be met before certain goods are sold. These standards include:
- the way the good is made
- what it contains
- how it works
- the tests it needs to pass
- whether any warnings or instructions need to accompany it.
Individual suppliers who breach Australian Consumer Law can be fined up to $220,000, while corporations can be fined up to $1.1 million.
How to make a complaint
IMPORTANT: If you require urgent medical assistance, don’t delay - contact your GP or call 000 immediately.
- Contact the local council where the food business is located to make a complaint about a retail business (except butchers) or food poisoning affecting one household.
- Contact the NSW Food Authority to make a complaint about butchers, food poisoning in more than one household, or other issues relating to food safety and labelling. Call the NSW Food Authority on 1300 552 406 or make a complaint online.
- Contact the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to report a side effects to medicine and problems/adverse events with medical devices. You should also contact the TGA to report counterfeit medicines and medical devices and issues with a medicine’s packaging or storage.
- Contact us for complaints about food packaging (other than how if affects the safety of the food eg choking hazards, burn hazards). Call 13 32 20 or make a complaint online.
Browse our Product safety section for more information on a range of product types including baby and children’s products, gas and electrical goods, and other consumer items.
The NSW Food Authority has tips on food safety, as well as information on food recalls and labelling requirements.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.
Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?
The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- NSW Fair Trading, and
- other State and Territory consumer protection agencies.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.