Imported food legislation

​​The Department of Agriculture is responsible for administering two sets of requirements for imported food. These requirements are designed to:

All imported food must meet biosecurity requirements to be allowed into the country. Once imported food has met these requirements food is monitored for safety and compliance to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) and the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016.

Our role in monitoring imported food is part of the national food regulatory system. Find out more about Australia’s food regulatory system.

Biosecurity Act 2015

To help protect Australia’s unique environment from unwanted pests and diseases, the Department of Agriculture regulates products imported into Australia. The importation of some products is, by law, subject to certain biosecurity import conditions. Some products are not permitted entry while other products are only allowed into Australia subject to meeting import conditions that mitigate the biosecurity risk. This may include a requirement for an import permit.

You can use the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) to determine whether a commodity intended for import into Australia:

  • is permitted
  • is subject to import conditions
  • requires supporting documentation
  • requires treatment
  • needs an import permit.

It is your responsibility to comply with the department’s import conditions when importing into Australia.

Imported Food Control Act 1992

All food imported into Australia must comply with the requirements of the Code and the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016. The Imported Food Control Act 1992 (the Act), and its subordinate legislation (the Imported Food Control Order 2001 and Imported Food Control Regulations 1993) establishes the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS) and set the compliance requirements for imported food to meet national food safety standards.

Imported food is inspected by the Department of Agriculture through the IFIS. We inspect imported food to check it meets Australian requirements for public health and safety and is compliant with applicable standards in the Code and the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016.

Find out more about the inspection of imported food under the IFIS.

Amendments to imported food legislation

From time to time, improvements will be made through legislative changes affecting how the Imported Food Control Act 1992 is administered, including operation of the IFIS. Changes to the Act and its subordinate legislation enable the department to respond to food safety risks posed by food imported to Australia.

Find out about amendments to the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

See proposed changes to the inspection of risk food.

Learn about the review of the Imported Food Control Regulations and review of the Imported Food Control Order. ​

Guidelines for overseas disclosure of information

As a signatory to international treaties to protect human health, Australia is obliged to share information with our international partners where there is a risk to human health posed by an imported food.

Under subsection 42(A)(3) of the Act, the Secretary may disclose imported food information to a foreign government department, agency, authority or instrumentality. The disclosure of information (including personal information) may only occur when the Secretary is satisfied that the disclosure of the information is necessary for that department, agency, authority or instrumentality to perform any of its functions, duties or powers in relation to a food safety risk to human health.

Subsection 42(A)(5) of the Act requires the Secretary to publish guidelines for the disclosure of this information. Before making these guidelines, the Secretary is required to consult with the Australian Information Commissioner. The Secretary has consulted the Commissioner and the guidelines are consistent with the privacy protections provided by the Privacy Act 1988.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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