How to Avoid Penalties for Non-Compliance With Standard 3.2.2A

September 19, 2023 Read Time icon 4 min read

New food safety legislation in Australia has changed its requirements, and non-compliance is penalised harshly. Effective December 8, 2022, Australia has incorporated a new food safety law under Standard 3.2.2A of the Food Standards Code.

Applicable across all states and territories, the law adds another layer to the previous state- or territory-specific legislation. Its enforcement begins in 2023 and is overseen by local governments. Failure to comply could result in serious penalties, including fines, license suspension, or even cancellation.

Overview of Standard 3.2.2A

Standard 3.2.2A introduces a comprehensive set of food safety management requirements that applies to all businesses involved in the preparation and serving of food. The standard specifies three crucial tools for compliance:

  • Food Handler Training: All employees directly involved in food handling must undergo training.
  • Food Safety Supervision: At least one certified supervisor must oversee food handling activities, and the certification must be under five years old.
  • Record Management: Businesses must maintain a record-keeping system for prescribed activities, especially if they fall under category one, which applies to high-risk food services. Records must be kept for at least three months after they were made.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

The new standard is subject to rigorous enforcement, with local governments acting as the primary oversight bodies. Penalties for non-compliance vary based on the severity of the violation and the jurisdiction in which the business operates. 

Financial penalties may range from moderate fines to more substantial amounts for serious violations. Repeated or severe non-compliance could lead to license suspension or termination.

Beyond the legal consequences, non-compliance can also result in substantial reputational damage. Negative publicity can deter customers, causing a decline in revenue. Additionally, businesses may be exposed to legal actions from affected consumers.

3.2.2A Sanctions for Specific States and Territories

States and territories nationwide have different methods of ensuring businesses comply with all federal and state rules. Here’s how it works in each state and territory:

New South Wales (NSW)

Non-compliance in NSW can result in hefty fines and, in severe cases, temporary business closures. The Food Authority conducts unannounced inspections to scrutinise Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) qualifications and other instances of non-compliance like improper storage or temperature control.


In Victoria, failing to meet training requirements for Food Safety Supervisors and Food Handlers could lead to enforcement actions such as fines or revocation of a food business license. Health Inspectors also have the authority to close businesses that threaten public health.


Queensland Health monitors and enforces new training requirements. Non-compliance can subject businesses to regular inspections and audits, during which a business may be required to present evidence of employee training. Penalties could include corrective action plans or fines.

South Australia

Food businesses in South Australia that fail to meet the food safety training requirements as per Standard 3.2.2A by the given deadline may be subject to unscheduled inspections. Health Inspectors can levy penalties, focusing on issues ranging from lack of staff training to cleanliness and food preparation methods.

Western Australia

Failure to comply with Standard 3.2.2A in Western Australia could result in detailed feedback sessions post-inspection to improve standards. WA Health also maintains a Food Offenders List, where details of non-compliant businesses and individuals are publicly accessible for up to 24 months.


Non-compliance in Tasmania could lead to penalties ranging from warnings to fines or business closures. Special attention is given during unannounced inspections to verify that Food Safety Supervisors and Food Handlers are adequately trained.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, businesses lacking compliance with Standard 3.2.2A could face corrective action plans to guide improvements in staff training practices. These are enforced by public health officers who conduct inspections in accordance with the Food Act 2004.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The Health Protection Service conducts inspections in the ACT to ensure compliance with Standard 3.2.2A. Non-compliance could result in reports and audits that identify gaps and offer improvement guidance.

Achieving Compliance: Practical Steps

When businesses comply with Standard 3.2.2A, they protect themselves from legal penalties and other repercussions. Here’s a quick checklist of practical steps to take: 

  • Ensure employees are trained. Under the new standard, training is non-negotiable. Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) such as the Australian Institute of Food Safety (AIFS) offer Food Handler and Food Safety Supervisor training that is compliant with Standard 3.2.2A as well as state and territory requirements. Equip staff with the essential knowledge for safely handling food – this is the best way to avoid penalties for non-compliance.
  • Enlist Food Safety Supervisors. Nominate at least one Food Safety Supervisor who has completed a recognised training program within the last five years. This person must have the authority and expertise to ensure the safe handling of food across operations. If your business has multiple sites, each should have its designated supervisor.
  • Keep thorough records. Standard 3.2.2A mandates that category one businesses must retain food safety records for at least three months to assist in foodborne illness investigations. Although this is the baseline requirement, keeping these records longer can offer valuable insights into trends or emerging issues. Note that some states and territories may require a more extended retention period than the standard prescribes, in which case you must follow local guidelines. The availability of food safety records is mandatory for inspection by authorised officers. 
  • Consult with an Advisor. Expert advice can streamline the transition to compliance. The Australian Institute of Food Safety (AIFS) provides valuable insights tailored to your business type. An AIFS Compliance Advisor can assist in ensuring your food business is compliant with Standard 3.2.2A and can help you avoid penalties. 
  • Arrange for periodic audits and monitoring. Regular internal audits can serve as a compliance check, enabling proactive correction of any problems. A Food Safety Supervisor can conduct an internal audit. Third-party audits can also offer an objective review of your practices.

Avoiding Penalties Can Be Easy

In a quickly changing regulatory landscape, compliance with Standard 3.2.2A is not merely a legal requirement but a smart investment in your business's future. The advantages span beyond avoiding legal penalties to enhancing operational efficiency, building consumer trust, and ensuring public safety. 

With enforcement commencing in 2023, the time to act is now. Engage with experts, educate your staff, and institute a robust record-keeping system to align your business operations with this food safety standard. Schedule a free consultation with a Compliance Officer to get started. 

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