We plan to determine whether councils are complying with their legislative responsibilities for food safety to protect public health.
Why this is important
Under Victoria’s Food Act 1984 (Food Act), councils are responsible for the day-to-day regulation of most food businesses in the state. Councils also have registration, enforcement, and monitoring responsibilities under both the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and the Food Act. The Department of Health (DH) administers both acts and provides guidance to councils on their responsibilities under them. However, each council decides on its own process and resourcing levels for regulatory activity.
The Parliament’s August 2020 Inquiry into the closure of I Cook Foods Pty Ltd identified significant issues with Dandenong City Council’s performance of its role as a food safety regulator. The report found that council’s food safety regulation activities were ad hoc, inconsistent and did not reflect best practice.
The October 2021 Inquiry into the closure of I Cook Foods Pty Ltd: Second report recommended that VAGO “undertakes the proposed audit of food safety regulation in local councils”.
What we plan to examine
This is a reasonable assurance performance engagement focusing on effectiveness and compliance. We plan to focus on food safety regulation activities, information and data for the calendar years 2018 to 2021 and 30 September 2022 to compare performance over time and the impact of COVID in 2020 and 2021 on regulatory activity.
We propose to scope DH, City of Casey, City of Greater Geelong, Hepburn Shire Council, Kingston City Council and Manningham Council into this engagement.