All food imported into Australia must comply with Australian food standards and requirements for safety. This includes compliance with:
We monitor imported food to check it meets these requirements through a risk-based inspection scheme called the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS).
The Department of Home Affairs’ Integrated Cargo System (ICS) refers shipments of imported food to us for inspection and testing.
Notification of inspection
We issue a Food Control Certificate (FCC) to let you know your imported food needs to be inspected and if any tests apply. The food to be inspected must remain on hold. You cannot distribute it.
Food Control Certificate
We use FCCs to communicate directions to importers.
The initial FCC sets out:
- which lines of the import entry will be inspected and must be held
- which lines of the import entry will not be inspected
- directions for booking an inspection
- what tests are required
- if any food in the consignment is subject to a holding order
- any additional directions.
We may issue additional FCCs to advise:
- if we need further information
- when your laboratory nomination has been accepted.
Nominate a laboratory
If your food needs to be tested, the FCC will instruct you to nominate a laboratory. The laboratory must be an appointed analyst under the IFIS.
You can book an inspection once a laboratory advises you that they have accepted your nomination.
See how to book a laboratory for food testing.
Book an inspection
If your food has been referred for inspection, you will need to book an inspection with us.
If your food has also been referred for testing, you will need to nominate a laboratory before you book an inspection.
Complete and submit the Request for Inspection Form to book your inspection.
We can now virtually inspect eligible surveillance food that has been referred for label and visual inspection.
A virtual inspection is conducted in real time using Microsoft Teams.
These surveillance foods are not eligible for virtual inspections:
- formulated supplementary sport foods
- food subject to a holding order
- food subject to analytical testing.
To find out about more, email IFIS-InspectionSupport@agriculture.gov.au and refer to our imported food label and visual virtual inspections fact sheet.
Imported food label and visual virtual inspections (PDF 448 KB)
Imported food label and visual virtual inspections (DOCX 144 KB)
If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.
Imported food inspection
Make sure the food to be inspected is visible and easy to access and the required documentation is ready for the authorised officer.
At inspection, we visually assess your food and check the label to make sure it complies with Australian requirements. If testing is required, we will take samples of your food.
If you are not prepared for the inspection or you don’t follow our instructions, we may cancel your inspection but still charge you for it. If this occurs, you will need to re-book an inspection.
Imported Food Inspection Report
We issue an electronic Imported Food Inspection Report (eIFIR) at the end of your inspection. The eIFIR sets out:
- how many samples we took for testing
- if you can release the food or not.
The eIFIR is also sent to your nominated laboratory to let them know your samples are ready to be collected from us.
Imported Food Inspection Advice
If your inspection is only a label and visual assessment, you will be issued with an Imported Food Inspection Advice (IFIA) at the end of inspection or shortly after.
If samples have been taken for testing, the IFIA will be sent to you once testing results are known.
The IFIA will tell you if your food has:
- passed assessment and can be released
- failed inspection.
If your food fails inspection
If your food fails inspection, the IFIA will tell you the reasons it has failed. The food cannot be released.
The IFIA will tell you:
- what to do with the food, either
- dispose of or re-export your food under the supervision of an authorised offer
- how to book another inspection, and when this needs to occur.
See our charging guidelines for the standard charges for imported food inspections.
Your nominated laboratory sets their charges for testing. They will invoice you directly.